Looking back at the year that was 2011, there have been a huge amount of events and performances that have made it a year to remember. There is no doubt that the endurance sports you participate in, spectate and follow are on the rise and are making some solid noise on the sports landscape. For me it’s been very enjoyable, but challenging to deliver event information from 32 events attended, and 81 posts to you in the first full year of tas endurance. The best way to celebrate this is to share with you my insights into the highs, concerns and lows of the last year……
Lets start with the highs…..
Lets raise our hands and give a cheer for our world champions for 2011, James Hodge and Holly Claridge who were able to beat the best in triathlon WC events in Beijing and Las Vegas. The only performances that outweigh these fine efforts are those that missed out on world championship glory, by mere millimetres with Matt Goss running out of tarmac to take one of the most coveted jerseys in cycling, after finishing second to the Mark Cavendish in the elite road race world championships. The dissapointment on the poduim showed the world that he is driven by success and hungry to go one step further in 2012, with the Olympics and more opportunity with a new team. A stark contrast to Joe Gambles who won his first ever championship medal at the UTI world long course triathlon championships in Vegas. After a few years on the circuit, Gambles was exstatic to finally get some new silverware for the mantlepiece.
The year started with a milestone (pun not intended) in Tasmanian sporting history with Hobart runner Ryan Foster breaking the magical four minute barrier for the mile. The first Tasmanian ever to acheive this feat after years of many getting close, but not close enough. If you are a sporting fan and haven’t read the post and watched the video, now is the time to make yourself familar.
2011 showcased Tasmania to the world with over 80 international teams descended on NW Tasmania for the World Adventure Racing Championships. The biggest race on the international circuit introduced the worlds best to our beautiful but harsh environment, and exposed the state to northern hemisphere weekend warriors and endurance junkies. Mark Webber returned for the first time since a broken leg, to ressurect the Mark Webber Challenge, that was won by Tasmania’s own endurance men, Mark Padgett and Mark Hinder. USM events, better known for organising world class, mass participation triathlon events launched Pro Ex week long cycling camp and the Opperman Gran Fondo for the first time. There is no doubt that interstate businesses are starting to look to cash in to our natural playground.
Tasmania is the hottest new location for cycling in the world. I heard a story of an international cycling journalist who had made the trip specifically from Asia to try and find out why Tasmania is producing world class cyclists from a small population base. So the story goes, the experienced cycling writer was awestruck by the magnificent riding terrain and how accessable it is. There is no doubt Tassie cyclists are not afraid of a few hills. The future looks bright for Tasmania to continue to produce, with Genysis Wealth Advisors a key stepping stone to greatness.
Are the big city councils making enough effort to support the running of events on their streets? Runners are voting with participation, but the council seems only interested in meeting the needs of the small amount of whingers in the general public who find these events an inconvenience to their morning drive to get the newspaper. It’s really sad to see races like the City to Casino sent down back streets and across tiny walkways in Battery Point. Whatever happened to the days of the race following Main Road through the heart of the city? Metz corner at the Launceston cycling classic was the place to be, but once again, it’s been pushed to the outskirts and lost it’s charm and atmosphere. Moving a race start to 1pm in the middle of summer, so that a small minority can concentrate on their Sunday prayers over the noise of pink wearing women running in the launceston 5km! They don’t have these problems at the New York Marathon.
For the second year a cyclist has been killed on our roads. Condolences to the family and friends of Andrew Bingley who had his life cut short on 16th June. Riding on the Bass Highway heading west, Bingley was hit from behind at 95kmph, by a Deloraine driver who simply failed to see him. Other drivers had seen him well in advance. Road safety statistics show eight cyclists were involved in serious accidents this year, requiring hospital stays of at least 24 hours. Launceston’s World Champion triathlete Holly Claridge was mown down from behind, in Kings Meadows and was lucky to get away with the injuries sustained. Claridge made this plea to drivers over the Christmas period. With the increased participation in cycling, I can only hope that motorists show greater respect to riders as joint users of the states roads. There was also some very nasty crashes during races throughout the year, with one of our best riders Ben Mather spending some time off the bike after this sickening impact.
The full sequence can be found at the advocate with photgrapher Adam Pearce capturing the moment.
Stay tuned this week for the first ever annual Tasmanian Endurance Awards announced. Lets hope that the highs outweigh the lows in 2012 and that it’s going to an even bigger year of endurance sport brought to you by tas endurance in 2012.