Aussies sweep Laguna Phuket

Former world champion Joanne King of Australia  Credit: Robert Oliver
Australians should dominate the Laguna Phuket Triathlon. First of all, it takes place in Thailand, which is a lot closer to Sydney than it is to San Diego, or even London. Second, it takes place in December, when most Northern Hemisphere pros are just beginning to think about returning to base training, but when the Australian summer triathlon season is in full swing.

This year, in the seventh staging of the event, Australian triathletes finished first through fifth in the men's field, while the two Aussie pro women racing finished first and second.

The only upset on the day was recorded within the Australian ranks, as Craig Walton defeated two-time defending champion Marc Lees, who took third.

The fastest swimmer in triathlon, Walton took advantage of the 1.8-kilometer swim (0.3K longer than the world Cup and Olympic distance) to open a 90-second lead over his nearest rival.

Also among the strongest cyclists in the sport, Walton then made his lead insurmountable over the hilly, non-drafting 55-kilometer bike leg. He notched the fastest split of the day by four minutes. Walton was able to relax on the run and wound up winning by a 4:25 margin.

Craig Alexander finished in second place on the strength of the day's top run split. Olympian Miles Stewart was a full 11 minutes off the pace in fifth place.

In the women's race, three-time defending champion Jackie Gallagher was a no-show. Fellow Aussie and former world champion Joanne King, who raced the Hawaii Ironman in October, made the most of Gallagher's absence by outswimming and outrunning all rivals en route to a three-minute margin of victory over Robyn Roocke.

Canada's Lori Bowden made her return to racing with a third-place showing in Thailand, after placing second behind Natascha Badmann in Kona in October. Bowden had planned to run in November's New York City Marathon, but scrapped the plan due to fatigue.

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