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Young guns take aim at Newcastle City Triathlon champion

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Hometown hero Nathan Stewart is eyeing off his ninth crown at next month’s Sparke Helmore Newcastle City Triathlon.

But, the champion won’t get it all his own way, according to H Events’ Paul Humphreys, when the 29th edition of the event rolls around on Sunday 20 November.

Lurking in the shadows are gun athletes Monty and Liam Dixon.

Nathan Stewart has dominated the Newcastle City Triathlon on eight previous occasions.

“Nathan’s won over the short format, as well as the Olympic distance,” Humphreys said.

“And, he has eight titles to his name already, so he’s clearly excelled at both over the years.

“He won’t be daunted by anything.

“However, his biggest dangers, at this stage, appear to be two young guys in town.

“The Dixon twins are teens, sitting for their respective HSCs.

“Nevertheless, I believe they’re real contenders.”

The Sparke Helmore Newcastle City Triathlon, which will also raise funds for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, is set to undergo a slight change in 2022, with organisers dropping the Olympic distance event.

Competitors are now expected to vie for the Sprint (750m swim, 21km cycle, 5km run) or Enticer (350m swim, 10.5km cycle, 2.5km run) from Customs House Park.

Special age-related categories for relay team members include: 120-149 years (average 40+), 150-179 years (average 50+) and 180+ (average over 60), too.

“A risk assessment of the bike leg deemed it unsafe, due to the high density of pedestrian and parked cars in the area,” Humphreys said.

“So, the footprint of the cycle course will therefore be reduced to avoid Newcastle Beach, King Edward Park and Watt Street.

“But, overall, we’ve been pretty lucky over the past two years, especially with COVID.

“We haven’t had to cancel an event yet due to it; weather’s been the biggest issue lately.

“The [Newcastle] triathlon went ahead in February 2020 – just before the pandemic hit.

“Then we were fortunate enough to host it again last year when a lot of events returned.

“We just got away with it, although COVID restrictions made it tough.

“However, despite all of that, we’ve continued to go from strength-to-strength.

“We’re now staging it in November, due to Supercars, which isn’t a major worry for us either.

“Contending with Mother Nature is probably our main concern.

“The future forecasts aren’t promising, with plenty of rain predicted, which can be frustrating.”

Humphreys admitted participation figures would be “unknown” until closer to the day.

“Usually, we’re just shy of 1,000 competitors,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“But, that could change, depending on everything; you just don’t know at the moment.

“We’re staging the Fernleigh 15 this weekend and the numbers are down about 20%.

“So, I’m anticipating anywhere between 800 and 1,000.”

Still catering for novice and serious triathletes, entries are open to individuals who can complete three legs (swim, cycle and run) on their own and to relay teams (participants completing one leg each).

“We have a lot of people who have progressed from being part of a relay team in the shortest race, to years later completing the longer distance as an individual,” Sparke Helmore partner Darren Rankine said.

“Many want to continuously challenge their fitness – and this is the perfect event for them.

“On top of it being the 29th year of the triathlon, Sparke Helmore is celebrating its 140th anniversary in 2022.

“The firm started in Newcastle in 1882 and we’re proud to still be going strong and continuing our tradition of supporting the local community.”

With the event requiring closing down a substantial section of the foreshore and surrounds, organisers are undertaking additional traffic control management efforts in 2022.

This includes:

  • Additional pre-warning variable message board signage of the event
  • No closure of Shortland Esplanade (Zarra to Watt streets)
  • No closures on Wharf Road west of Watt Street

Main event road closures include:

  • Wharf Road (Watt Street to Nobbys Road): 5am-noon
  • Shortland Esplanade (Nobbys Road to Zarra Street): 5am-noon
  • Fort Drive and Nobbys Road: 5am-noon
  • Footpaths from Watt Street to Nobbys (harbour side) will be used for the run leg: 7am-noon

Visit www.newcastlecitytriathlon.com.au for more information.

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