Tony Williams has overcome a broken collarbone and sweltering race conditions to qualify for the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii next month.
The off-road triathlon features a 1.5km swim, 30km mountain bike ride and 10km trail run.
The 53-year-old personal trainer from Mt Victoria qualified for the world championship after winning the 50 to 54-year-old age category with two wins and a fifth place in a three-race series in Australia.
In February, Williams broke his collarbone during the mountain biking leg of the Xterra East Gippsland, Victoria race, but he kept going to finish fifth in his age category.
“The pain was intense but I rode on to finish the 30km of jumps and bumps,” he said. “In the run transition I was overtaken by my main competitor in the age group series. I wrapped up my arm in my top and attempted to stay in touch with the age groupers.”
After five months of no swimming but plenty of running, Williams had sufficiently healed to return to the pool.
His next challenge was preparing for the Xterra Townsville race in early September.
“I travelled up early in the week and rode the complete course over two days before the race and felt very confident to pull back some time if I was slow on the swim,” Williams said.
“The swim was unique. We got a ride on the Magnetic Island ferry which dropped us off in the bay for us to swim back to shore. This was a bit of a worry as the newspaper had reported saltwater crocodiles in the water two days earlier.”
Fortunately there were no crocodiles in sight, but riding and running in more than 30 degree heat was a challenge.
“The heat was crazy and every aid station I just poured water over myself trying to cool my body down,” Williams said.
He won his age category in 3 hours and 36 seconds, and is now looking forward to several weeks of hard training as he prepares for the world championships on October 28.
Meanwhile, Nicole Tziavaras from Leura and Alastair Ross from Wentworth Falls have returned home after competing in the World Ironman 70.3 Championships in South Africa in early September. Trained by Williams, both achieved personal best times in their respective age categories.