Veteran Ironman world champion Craig Alexander ended Nathan Breen’s charge for a third consecutive Richie Walker Aquathlon title on Saturday.
It was a hot day for the race at its traditional Gunnamatta Bay Park course at Cronulla, with 25 degree water temperature attracting more than 250 competitors for the 31st annual event officially started by Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce.
World age group champion Michael Maroney and Dean Piazza were among a large group of former winners, with the men’s race going down to the wire.
Defending two-time champion Breen, a 19-year-old Cronulla Triathlon Club member, had a 20 second lead after the swim but that was quickly eaten up by Alexander.
The 43-year-old went on to win the race in 31 minutes and one second as he stormed home in the run leg.
It was an impressive win for the ageless Alexander, who won the inaugural 70.3 Ironman World Championship in 2006 and the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship for the first time two years later.
In 2011 Alexander achieved what no other man in the history of triathlon had been able to, winning both the Half Ironman and Ironman World Championships in the same year. He also set a world record time in winning his third Hawaiian Ironman World Championship.
Jacqueline Burnand dominated the women’s race to win in 36.59 to outlast last year’s winner Laura May.
This year was the 30th anniversary of Walker’s sudden and tragic death from a heart attack during a race at Tamworth.
Two races were held in the first year after Walker died, making Saturday’s event the 31st held in his honour.
Walker was a promising triathlete, a lifeguard and described as an “all-round good bloke”, with athletes past and present coming together to compete in his memory for more than 30 years.
All money raised will go to the Heart Foundation, with the event raising more than $30,000 for the cause since its inception.
Richie Walker Aquathlon – 2017 results
1st: Craig Alexander – 31:01
2nd: Nathan Breen – 31:17
3rd: Brady Goodyear – 31:53
1st: Jacqueline Burnand – 36:59
2nd: Laura May – 37:41
3rd: Matilda Offord – 38:08