Known far and wide as one of Australia’s toughest and most challenging races, Hell of the West is a swim-bike-run consisting of a 2km swim, 80km bike ride, and 20km run, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Queensland. Now in its 25th edition, the event crowned professional triathlete Sam Betten as this year’s men’s champion with a time of 03:35:59.
As Triathlon Australia’s National and State Long Distance Championship, the gruelling “Hell” has seen the likes of Pete Jacobs and Luke Mackenzie claim the top spot in years past.
This is the third year in a row that Betten has decided to start his triathlon season with Hell of the West, having come in 1st and 2nd place in 2014 and 2015, respectively. This year, according to Betten, he had taken a more strategic approach aimed at improving on his weaknesses. In the end, the hard work paid off, as Betten was able to break Mackenzie’s long-standing “Hell” bike record (with a time of 1:55:27), and even came within 36 seconds of shattering the latter’s overall course time (set in 2010) on his way to winning the race.
A familiar presence on the Asian triathlon circuit, Betten is no stranger to competing at the top level. As an athlete who has been swimming, biking and running since he was young, he first gained attention when he was named Australia’s Triathlon National ITU Junior Elite Champion two years in a row. For someone who had started running in school and swimming in a local club, and had begun biking at the urging of his father, this was a major feat.
This isn’t to say that Betten doesn’t know how to relax, of course, as the award-winning triathlete is a strong believer in the importance of rest, which allows him to catch up on sleep or indulge in his hobbies of photography and going to car shows.
Flash forward to 2016, and Betten has every reason to be proud of his latest accomplishment, sharing on his blog that, “My performance was something that I was really proud of and I honestly felt solid all day out there racing. With this being the third time in as many years that I have kicked off my year with this event the times were the quickest I have ever produced on this course while still feeling like I was racing well in control and not having to go into the red zone.”
Having conquered “Hell”, Bennet, who has stated his goal is to win the IronMan World Championships, will be competing in the IronMan 70.3 Subic Bay, set to be held on March 6. With determination, drive, and an overriding passion to best himself, there appears to be no distance Betten and his triathlon dreams can’t conquer.
Click here for a first-hand account of Bennet’s 2016 Hell of the West experience.