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This weekend saw the traditional new year long course opener the Goondiwindi Hell of the West.

‘Short course’ Max on his way to victory in Gundi. Photo Credit: Melissa Gladman Photography

A few days out from this years Hell of the West, I told HillsDistrict 22yr old Max “Country C” Neumann, “let’s head west with the rest of the long course crew and do the race for training, it will be a good brick session for you, we’ll do some training before and after; will be a good weekend away…” well some training session it was, after limiting his losses to training partner Josh Amberger in the swim to only 16seconds, a sign that hard work and sometechnical changes are taking effect…. The ‘short course’ athlete was able to more then hold his own on the bike before delivering a controlled 69min run to secure the win, the course record and the run course record. Next up you’ll see Max in the short course which is what we are focusing on at present, but be warned, the old decrepit and swim challenged long course crew, you may well see Max at another long course race before the year is out…

Fifth Hell of the West title for Sarah. Photo Credit: Melissa Gladman Photography

Sarah Crowley headed west to what may be her favourite race of the year… After coming out of water with the leaders, Sarah put the race beyond doubt on the tuff bike with a 59flat first 40k and running to her fifth Hell of the West Title. You won’t see Sarah for a few months now, as we head into some heavy swim blocks.. Yes, Sarah came out in the main pack in Kona after some huge breakthroughs in her swim in 2017, but I can absolutely guarantee that same group will be 2min faster in 2018. Will they be with super fish Charles and Brandon? No, not in our lifetime, (unless they neglect it…)

Josh kicks off 2018 with 3rd place at Gundi. Photo Credit: Melissa Gladman Photography

Josh Amberger headed to Hell of the West for the first time, after a gentle start to the year after the Xmas break which will see him build up for a mid year Ironman. Josh cost himself some time with an uncharacteristic mistake after starting the bike with his swim speedsuit before realizing and heading back to T1 to take it off… he recovered, and finished with a solid 3rd to open the year up…

A great ride by Kerry. Photo Credit: Melissa Gladman Photography

Kerry Morris (Mullholland) with her husband Luke moved over to Brisbane after Xmas to train with HillsDistrict after an initial 6 week block in late 2017. Kerry has been going through some pretty drastic changes in all areas compared to what she’s used to, and these are starting to show some serious improvement which is making coach very happy…

Did you like it Holly? Photo Credit: Melissa Gladman Photography

22yr old Holly Grice was given the option a month ago, come out to Gundi and I’ll show you another side to our sport.. We’ll borrow your Dad’s TT bike, load you up with some lollies for the bike, and we’ll do an half ironman to see if you like it… Well after leading the swim out, Holly ticked the only objective on her list, 1) FINISH. Well 2 days later, Holly is still talking to me, so the question is now you know what it involves, do you want in?

Shannon crosses the line in Gundi. Photo Credit: Melissa Gladman Photography

Shannon Chapman came to me before Xmas and asked, can you give me a podium in an ironman one day?… I replied, can you give me 3yrs? she answered yes, and is quickly to work on my “Wongstar/Biscay” project. Shannon comes from a small country town, learnt to swim 2 yrs ago where the pool is only open 6months of the year too… well good news Shannon, the pools in QLD are open year round!! Shannon headed to Gundi for a hard hitout with the crew.

Recover well Damo!

Damo Collins had the unfortunate mishap of hitting a country sized pothole on the bike, which at 40+km/h on extensions caught him at the wrong moment, and took him down hard, resulting in a broken collarbone… Ironic that his partner Ash has only just recovered from her broken collarbone sustained in a race late last year too!!

Congrats Hayley on a great race this year! Photo Credit: Melissa Gladman Photography

Hayley Stevenson headed out to Gundi to redeem herself from last year, when while racing with a virus ended with a trip to the local hospital…Hayley with a full bill of health this year, had a great race, doing PB’s in the bike and run, picking up a silver medal in the state Champs and finishing strong before we fasttrack recovery in the 6 day turnaround before Tweed Coast Enduro.. Hayley loves a challenge!!

Kiwi Mark Bowstead came over to HillsDistrict was given the same option as Max a few days out… the groups headed west this weekend, you can do your brick session at home by yourself, or you can come out and do it at the Hell of the West…. So we all pitched in with suits, helmets, wheels and Mark headed out for a nice solid session, which incidentally was the first race he’s completed since June 2017 after recovering from knee surgery… The knee is healed and we put that one behind, as Mark has put his hand up, to become a real deal pro, not a duck and dodge one…

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