For 31 years, Noumea in New Caledonia has served as the stunning location for one of the world’s longest-running races – the Noumea International Olympic Distance Triathlon. On April 24th, proud Alaska Ambassador Sam Betten gave his best and emerged as the 2016 champion, besting his third place standing from last year’s edition of the 1.5km swim, 40km bike, and 10km run race.
“This is one of the oldest running triathlons in the world and I was over the moon to win the 31st edition of this very prestigious race,” said Betten, who began swimming, biking, and running from a young age before rising to prominence as Australia’s Triathlon National ITU Junior Elite Champion for two consecutive years. Since then, Betten has been recognized as a mainstay at Asia-Pacific 70.3 and 5i50 events.
From the 1st 750-meter swim lap of this year’s event, Betten pushed hard, finding himself trailing fellow Australian triathlete Peter Kerr. By the time he dove back to the water for the 2nd lap, Betten managed to get ahead of Kerr and held on to the lead for the entire race. With his strategy in mind, Betten ran hard in transition to get a small lead heading into the 40km bike leg. By the time he started the 4 X 2.5km run course, he had already established a solid 3-minute and 15-second lead, no mean feat in the scorching heat, which Betten described as, “rising to the mid 30 degrees which made each run lap feel hotter and harder,” in his blog.
With the temperature rising to over 30-degrees, Sam Betten would cool himself off in mid-stride by dousing himself with water.
Competing against fellow Australians Cameron Good and Kerr, along with New Zealander Graham O’Grady, Betten knew he couldn’t afford to take anything for granted. With his Heart On Fire, Betten stuck to his strategy and kept his lead by maintaining his pace all the way to the finish line.
Every race brings new experiences, and for a passionate triathlete like Sam Betten, he took each one as an opportunity to learn. Through this, he was able to beat the odds and earn a place in the history of one of the world’s most prestigious triathlon events, joining the ranks of past winners such as Chris McCormack, Hamish Carter, Miles Stewart, and Simon Lessing.
So what’s next for the newly-minted Noumea winner?
“I am very much looking forward to my next race Ironman 70.3 Vietnam as well as returning to the Philippines for as many races as I can this season. I am especially looking forward to Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships in Cebu later this year and doing my best as an Alaska Milk ambassador.”
With passion like that powering him on, it’s a safe bet that this won’t be Sam Bennet’s last championship win.