During the 1990’s the Bendigo Triathlon Club hosted a race in the statewide ‘Physical Triathlon’ series.

The Bendigo event was held out at Lake Eppalock with an 800m swim, 34km cycle and 8km run.

Here’s a story from the 1994 event – with a couple of names mentioned still around the club. Author unknown –


One day before the event, forty one year old Kangaroo Flat triathlete, Bryan McCarthy went searching Bendigo for a better set of wheels. Brian, since becoming a vet, has finished second to just about everyone that the age group has ever included, always by the narrowest of margins. “Always the brides maid never the bride!” At last years PhysiCAL Triathlon, at Lake Eppalock, it had been to Eltham’s Rob Graham. Brian (a man who is always in the know) had heard that Graham had been the third woman home at Sorrento (I’m not sure what I mean by that one) and this year was taking no chances.

Race day bloomed in its usual perfect fashion. Next year we will challenge Shepparton for their title as Solar City! The water temperature was around 36.8° C, until I told some of the guys to pee somewhere else. Peter Ladd’s smooth organization of the race has inadvertently left himself wide open for the same job as Race Director next year, the fool!

It was a unisex start to the race which means that Erica Baldwin drifted off to one side to avoid the ‘Mike Tyson types. Colin Davis was best positioned as the leaders rounded, in sailing terms, the windward mark. By the time they reached the first set of time keepers Rick Stapleton had pegged back Davis and was first to stand up. Stapleton’s time for the 760 metre course was 9 mins 18 sees. Baldwin was third, 30 sees off the pace, with Mick Pearce on her heals. Melinda Walsh, the newly crowned Australian Junior Champion, was neck and neck with Julie Longshaw (first female at Sorrento) just 30 seconds further back.

Out on the road Stapleton, who was having his first race back from an accident at Hastings, put 2 minutes onto the rest of the field by the 17.5 km turnaround. John Svanosio and David Meade moved from 6th and 7th spot to pick up Stuart Talbot, Troy McKinna and finally Colin Davis at the 20 km mark. Walsh caught Baldwin, who had a nasty altercation with her bathers and wetsuit in the transition area, at the 5 km mark. They stayed together until Walsh established a brake at the 10 km mark. Longshaw, who is said to have had trouble with her seat, left it until the second transition to catch Baldwin.

Stapleton strode out onto the 8 km run after being the first cyclist in the event’s 5 year history (including Brett Richinni) to average greater than 40 kph. Svanosio (who in 1990, was run down by Digger Elrick) was first to give chase, but our club tortoise’s second spot was short lived. Meade, who says he will be concentrating more on footy this winter, put in the fastest run of the day to finish second. Davis moved into third spot, looking very fresh after experiencing back pains on the bike.

Rick “With hills like those I ache all over, not just my back!” Stapleton finished a clear winner by 2 mins 20 sees. Melinda Walsh was also a clear winner, 1 min 40 sees ahead of Longshaw, with Baldwin a further 40 sees back. Sally Murray (did not start at Sorrento) from Bainsdale had the second fastest ride-run combination to finish fourth.

Now that we have finished with all the official crap, did Bryan McCarthy get up? Was his swim faster than my deceased grandmother on a kick board? Lets not expect too much!

Rob Graham was out of the water in just over 12 mins. Good old Bryan lived up to his ‘Club Stone’ status (a very competitive title in our club) with a time of 14 mins 53 sees! On the bike Bryan wound up David Meade’s rear disc like never before. What was wrong with my Zipps, a bit of Sorrento salt and sand wouldn’t hurt? Old Bryan had the tenth fastest bike split (look out Tony Zerbsty) which caused the four young McCarthys to break into a chorus of “Go Dad!”. The deficit was now down to 46 secs.

Retirement looked Graham right in the face. Neil Savery from Warrnambool (who I’m told can run) ran stride for stride with Rob, but at the turnaround less than 100 metres separated the pair. Could it be McCarthy, first Vet? The four little McCarthys strained their little necks from beyond the finish line for the first glimpse of their victorious Dad. It wasn’t until eight year old Peter Ladd Jnr said to nine year old Patrick McCarthy “Did your Dad win, because my Mum did!” that young Patrick realized, Dad had let him down again! For the record the margin was 26 sees, I told him my Zipps were better.

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