Challenge Shepparton Race Preview
Victoria Park Lake is the centerpiece for regional Victorias only long course triathlon, the race village and transition nestled in the park at the northern end of the lake, making it an almost central location for all three legs on Sunday.
The 1.9 km wetsuit swim is held in the normally clear fresh water of the lake, a deep water start for the M shape course makes full use of the generally calm water to provide competitors with the full distance. Whilst not considered a rough body of water if a not unusual November wind arrives it can develop some serious chop, likely only for the later starters. With relatively shallow depth and no currents to speak of the course should be considered accurate in length.
A short run to the well grassed and almost luxurious transition, the organisers have in recent years made full use of the allowed area to provide competitors with space to move though unhindered by other competitors, a feature most Australian long course triathlon events lack.
Race organizers play on the flat and fast two lap bike course seemingly at almost every chance they get, I think this does the course a huge injustice. Whilst no one will argue that your garmin will struggle to measure the small amount of elevation change, the lion's share of the bike course features dead roads and most years is exposed to steady and consistent cross winds. November in this region can bring almost any weather imaginable, but a noticeable on course wind is almost a guarantee and this combined with the road surface delivers a generally draft free and honest race for the age groupers across both laps of the course. Spectators have an opportunity to view the race at the completion of the first lap turn around point.
Three laps on the shared path network is held mostly on sealed surfaces and sees a good amount of elevation change to help break up the run. A mostly shaded course will be welcomed if an early summer day arrives. Well designed, the run gives ample opportunity for competitor to interact with spectators not only through the race village at the completion of each lap, but at various points as the course works its way firstly around the back of the lake before moving out into the local bushland.