Title defence

November 11, 2017

Challenging times ahead: Brett Sands, Brady Threlfall and Steve Gray are expecting a quick time in Sunday's Challenge Shepparton triathlon.

Back-to-back wins is the goal for Team Moama Bowling Club heading into this weekend’s Challenge Shepparton triathlon.

With five different triathlons on offer, the most daunting of the challenges is the half-ironman variation — a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km run.

Steve Gray (swim), Brett Sands (bike) and Brady Threlfall (run) flew to victory in the team section 12 months ago in a time of 4.02:07.

But Sands said the team was hoping for another win and perhaps to crack the four-hour mark.

‘‘I did 2.21 (on the bike) last year in some pretty average conditions,’’ he said.

‘‘If I could go around the same mark I’d be happy but it would be nice to go one or two minutes quicker; it really depends on the day.

‘‘It would be good (to break four hours). We’ve talked about it and if we can all knock 30 to 45 seconds of our time we’ll go pretty close to that 3.59 mark.

‘‘The conditions say we probably should be able to do that.’’

With a team including Gray, who competed at the Ironman 70.3 world championships in Tennessee this year, and marathon man Threlfall, who ran 2.20:15 recently in the Berlin Marathon, it’s easy to see why the team is a favourite.

‘‘I reckon we might have a target on our back this year,’’ Sands said.

‘‘We won by 12 minutes last year but Shepparton teams went second and third and I reckon they will be gunning for us this year.

‘‘We’ll have our work cut out for us but we’re confident with the team we’ve got we should be around the mark.

‘‘It definitely puts pressure on you with the calibre of athlete in our team. We all feel we’d better have a real crack and make sure we don’t let the other boys down.

‘‘Compared to doing it individually, there’s a lot more pressure on your shoulders I reckon.’’

The elite athlete start list has 18 men and 13 women, 2016 winner Dan Wilson and 2015 winner Luke Bell among them.

And while the speedy front-runners might garner most of the attention, thousands of competitors will be giving it their all.

Today’s action at Shepparton’s Victoria Park Lake precinct features a tri for children and an enticer event with shorter distances, before tomorrow’s sprint, olympic and half-ironman distances.

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