Tim Berkel from Lennox Head finished second at the Hell of the West triathlon at Goondiwindi.
Tim Berkel from Lennox Head finished second at the Hell of the West triathlon at Goondiwindi. supplied

Berkel and Paxton stand out

LENNOX Head triathletes Tim Berkel and Rachel Paxton were the stand-outs from the contingent of Northern Rivers competitors in the Hell of the West triathlon at Goondiwindi yesterday.

Berkel finished second overall, just 20 seconds behind professional triathlete Ollie Whistler with a time of 3hr.41min.11.

Ballina Triathlon Club representative Luke Harrison finished third overall at 3hr.48mins.11.

"I hadn't raced for a while and I had no expectations heading in," Berkel said.

"A few things didn't go my way but you have to expect that.

"The course was everything I expected; it was flat, fast and hot."

The long-course event started with a 2km swim in the Botanic Gardens followed by an 80km bike leg and a 20km run.

Paxton, who finished third overall in the women's, said it was a difficult start because of the course being changed from last year.

"They shifted the swim because of all the rain and flooding and you had to swim over the top of people," Paxton said.

"It wasn't as hot and windy as last year and a lot of course records were broken.

"I'm originally from Roma so I love coming back to the country when I can," she said.

The women's event was won by professional triathlete Sarah Crowley who finished with a time of 4hrs.01mins.16.

"She is a very good runner and I gave her too much head start," Paxton said.

"I tried to catch her on the bike, but couldn't quite get there."

Paxton recently relocated to Lennox Head and along with Berkel trains with the Grant Giles Aeromax team at Skennars Head.

The 27-year-old will head to New Zealand for an ironman event next month.

"I had injuries and mechanical issues slow me down last year," Paxton said.

Berkel is set to head to the United States in March for a string of events beginning in California.

The Goondiwindi event attracted around 600 competitors with the Ballina club well represented.

"Our club really enjoys putting this event on every year and we appreciate the people making the effort to come back year after year," said Ballina club president Rhiannon McKenzie.

"The course was everything I expected; it was flat, fast and hot."



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