Albany SLSC fielded a small but competitive team in this year’s Endurance Champs, placing 7th out of 16 clubs in the overall points standings on Saturday 29th October.
Club newcomer William Liitiaeinen led the field for much of the open male 3km beach run in a dominant display, beating all comers in the u/17 category and only narrowly missing out on the overall win. William was pipped on the line by Scarboro’s u/19 Ben Johnston who placed third in the most recent nationals and second in the worlds! A little tactical tweak and you’re right there William! Following in her brother’s footsteps, Julia Liitiaeinen, also represented Albany for the first time, placed a handy 4th in the 3km u/14 beach run.
The Albany runners continued their winning ways in the 1.5km beach run, with Jason and Rachel Bresanello both first over the line in their respective races, and Nick Walker coming in second in the old-man age category. Way, way back in the pack, a Scarboro cap was reportedly sighted bobbing atop the head of one ex-Albany Adam Cousins … but this could not be confirmed until later in the day.
Runs done, all eyes turned slowly and reluctantly to the ocean … and huddling from the biting cold of the building southerly, were treated to a fine view of crumbling whitewater over a rolling grey expanse. Perfect board paddling conditions – let’s do 3.5km! From a deepwater start, an epic shootout in the gents commenced, as three old friends duked it out across clubs. One time Albany SLSC Vice President, Board Captain, and creator of the famous ‘Cousins Cup’ Middleton Beach board race, was out to show his new Scarboro mates a few tricks, and put Bresa and Nick to the sword. Blitzed off the start line by the foaming youth brigade, all three of our aging stars had to work hard back into the race, with Adam drafting well and taking an early lead, while Nick took to his knees once clear of the pack and promptly handed second place back to Bresa by lurching off for a quick swim. Spurred on by this misfortune and the mere thought of bragging rights over Adam, Bresa managed to pull clear and finish 2nd in the 30-44yr age group, beating out Adam who landed 4th position for the 45-59yr. Nick meantime struggled out the back with few companions and despite finishing an almost respectable 6th place in the 45-59yr category (earning one point mind you), he was eventually caught by the lead women’s pack, despite his 10 minutes head start. Rachel Bresa thankfully didn’t pass Nick, however finishing fourth in the ladies 30-44yr – nice work Rach!
After a lightening quick break the 2km swim lineup then took shape, and in worsening conditions and on paddle-numb arms, Adam put in a top effort to complete the race. It was however a highly unorthodox race plan from this seasoned ocean swimmer, choosing not only to miss the start while hanging out in trackies under the team tent, but also attempting to finish the race after just one of the required two laps, and then finally after eventually rejoining the race, finishing by rounding the wrong (far) turning can, adding even more metres to the punishing distance!
Bresa and Nick could only shake their heads in disbelief, as they rested up for the ski race in the comfort of the expansive Scarboro tent. Humbled by an elite pack of ex olympians and national champs, these two battled through the middle-top half of the 7km race field, enjoying some good runners on the southern returns, with Bresa eventually finishing 4th in the 30-44yr, comfortably beating out Nick who claimed third in the 45-59yr age group. Rachel continued her strong ski paddling form by taking 4th place in the 30-44yr women’s race, despite stopping to help out a fellow competitor in strife, and having a quick off around a turning can – a great result in an extremely tough field.
Albany SLSC can now expect some mail from SLSWA with a bag full of medals as it all got too windy, cold and eventually wet for everyone (including the poor officials), as the team scampered off the beach without presentations.
Let’s get around the long-distance champs next year!
Thanks to our sponsor BB Minicrete & Firewood Supplies