Amberger Breaks-through & Wells Dominates 70.3 Geelong

Tuesday 25 February 2020

After five attempts and three second places at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong, Gold Coast’s Josh Amberger has finally broken through, with a sensational performance on the run leg securing the win and the bonus of his first Australian Long course Championship.

Kiwi Hannah Wells dominated on the Eastern Beach course, extending her Australian IRONMAN 70.3 winning streak by adding Geelong to her stunning victories at Western Sydney and Sunshine Coast.

Pre race Amberger said “I'm gunning for 2020 to be the year I take the top spot” and he didn’t disappoint, running down two time IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong champion Sam Appleton in the final kilometres.

“It feels incredible,” Josh said. “You kind of get used to coming second and feeling second best all the time, and I almost felt like that for most of the day. Sam Appleton took off and gapped me from the start of the run and I thought that was my race done. It seemed like Appo was the strongest athlete but I just kept in touch with him. I started to peg him back on the second lap of the run, took the lead.”

“I am not known as a runner and not often in the position of running up to the lead and challenging and I kind of didn’t know what to do. I ran with Appo for a few seconds and it felt kind of easy, so I used my momentum and pushed on. This is my fifth time here and finally a win, so it is a good feeling.”

“I started with a new coach this year who works with some of the best so we made a few changes, training a different way and tweaking the biomechanics on the run a bit and I think it has really helped me find a bit of extra time on the run that I wouldn’t normally have on someone like Sam Appleton.”

The win in Geelong has been a long time coming for Amberger but if the IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong title wasn’t good enough, there was an added bonus. 

“I was thinking before the race with all the best Aussies here, it may as well be the Australian Championship and it is, the Australian Longcourse Championship. So, there you go, that is a good feeling to win that. It is a great way to kick off the season, it couldn’t be better,” Josh said.

Despite being found out on the run, Sam Appleton finished a strong second ahead of Port Macquarie’s Tim Van Berkel.

“It is early in the year and I have only been training for four or five weeks and while I am fit, when you haven’t really raced a 70.3 since October, you learn that race fitness is different to being fit,” Appleton said. “I felt good on the swim and the bike and up until the 7km mark of the run but then the lack of run training caught up with me after a hard bike. It really accentuates your weaknesses and you can’t come in underdone with the quality of athletes we had here.”

Hannah Wells was simply unstoppable on debut at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong and with another title in the bag, she is looking forward to a well earned break.

“I actually, surprisingly, felt really good out there particularly on the bike. I have been tired all week because I race only a week ago, but the legs turned up and the crowd out there was awesome, and they gave me a boost. There were people cheering all over the course and it was good to be able to enjoy the last bit of the run.”

“Geelong was a new race for me and I really liked doing a course I hadn’t done before. I hadn’t checked out the run course, so it was all kind of a pleasant surprise which made the time go by very fast. I really enjoyed it. It is very spectator friendly and the venue is almost made for IRONMAN 70.3 it is beautiful and the roads are nice and smooth, compared to back home and the run is very spectator friendly with heaps of support. I had a blast out there.”

“It has been a really good period of racing for me and I put that down to consistency of training. It has been a huge year and it is time for a break so I can start my preparation for races later in the year. The main goal being the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo. I feel so lucky to have the world championship in New Zealand for the first time. I am already qualified so I will definitely eyeing that one off,” she said

Victorian Grace Thek continued her run of strong performances at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong with another second place. She was delighted with her race and especially surprised to secure her first national title.

“I love it here in Geelong, the atmosphere is great. There is so much support from the crowd, especially along the waterfront. I had a pretty solid swim and I felt strong on the bike. I was driving the ride, so it was tough physically and mentally to keep going by myself but I was able to wrap it up with a pretty good run. Especially the last lap. I am really happy with the day but, Hannah was in a league of her own and smashed it. Coming in I wasn’t thinking about it being the National Longcourse title but that is fantastic. This is my first Australian championship, so I am stoked to learn that,” Grace said.

MALE PRO:
1 Josh Amberger AUS 3:44:09
2 Sam Appleton AUS +0:30
3 Tim Van Berkel AUS +4:29
4 Tim Reed AUS +4:55
5 Matt Burton AUS +5:05
6 Craig Alexander AUS +5:36

FEMALE PRO:
1 Hannah Wells NZL 4:10:40
2 Grace Thek AUS +5:47
3 Emily Loughnan AUS +8:47
4 Chloe Lane AUS +12:14
5 Rebecca Clarke NZL +16:43

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