It was the sweetest three hours, 54 minutes and 57 seconds of Sam Appleton’s life.
This wasn’t some leisurely Sunday stroll around Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin, as the 23-year-old from Warrimoo broke through for his maiden victory in the 70.3 Ironman series on December 15.
Appleton conquered the challenging course courtesy of a powerful run leg. It was a worthy reward for the former St Columba’s High School student after coming close in the past couple of months. A second place at the Port Macquarie 70.3 event in October was followed by a third in the Australian championships in Mandurah in November.
Appleton raced in Europe for a couple of years before taking a break from the sport after the 2010-11 season. He has returned invigorated and has set himself the goal of competing in next year’s 70.3 Ironman world championships in Canada.
“It feels good to finally get that under my belt,’’ Appleton (pictured) said.
“I started off as an ITU (International Triathlon United) athlete based in the shorter stuff, but I started to lose the love of the sport, had some time off and started to do the 70.3 races. It’s something I’ve had some reasonable success at and something I want to continue in the future.’’
Appleton pushed the pace in the swim in a group before suffering a nosebleed in the bike leg which had him “resembling an extra from The Walking Dead”.
But he pushed aside any thoughts of reduced blood cells and put his foot down in the 21-kilometre run leg.
“I ran the first 7km pretty hard to try and get out on my own, then I settled in from there,” he said.