Championship bliss for local father-daughter triathletes

Erika Allen

Mia Whitford powered to victory in the Sprint Championship. Photos: Contributed

A CRISP morning greeted triathletes at Elwood Beach on Sunday, March 3, for Race 5 of the iconic 2XU Triathlon Series, also doubling as the Victorian Sprint Championships.

Eight local competitors from the Riviera Triathlon Club (RTC) were undeterred by the chilly winds, tackling the challenging conditions with their eyes set on a podium finish.

Among some 1200 athletes, Sale’s own father and daughter duo, Simon and Mia Whitford, were crowned Victorian Sprint Champions in their age divisions.

Mia won the 15-19 Female Sprint while Simon was the victor in the 55-59 Male Sprint.

Contrary to its name, the Sprint distance is no walk in the park; instead, it presents a challenging combination of a 750m ocean swim, 20km cycle, and a 5km run along the Elwood foreshore.

Simon Whitford told the Gippsland Times the swim was especially challenging given the choppy conditions.

Whitford faced a formidable field of 33 competitors, but was undeterred by the competition as he established his dominance from the get-go, surging ahead in the swim leg and securing a significant lead of about one minute and forty-five seconds going into the cycle.

Not content with just a strong start, Whitford propelled himself into a comfortable lead by posting the fastest cycle leg, seamlessly transitioning into the run to clinch victory.

Simon Whitford (middle) was the first across the line in a field of 33 from around Victoria including runner-up Michael Pratt (left) and third Gordon Durnan (right). 

Like father like daughter, Mia also used the cycle leg to assert her lead.

After emerging from the arduous swim leg in fourth place, young Whitford swiftly closed the gap during the initial transition to the bike.

It was this phase where Mia found her strongest form, capturing the lead, and clocking the fastest time for this section by over one and a half minutes.

Whitford said his daughter will continue training at season’s end for the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast to be held at Mooloolaba Beach on September 8. Mia will compete in a half Ironman event with world qualifying potential.

Georgia Martin, another female competitor representing RTC, secured a respectable 4th place in the Female 15-19 Sprint.


RTC who hosted of the recent Maffra Triathlon covered by the Gippsland Times in February, made a strong showing at the championships, with familiar faces among the competitors.

The Vardy name, which has become synonymous with success at triathlons at the state and national level, was upheld by great results from Arki, Obi and Ryan.

Arki was the runner-up in the 15-19 Male Sprint race, while Ryan, who competed in a stacked field with 70 other athletes, placed 25th in the 45-49 Male Sprint.

Young gun Obi placed 6th in the Elite Youth division.

Harry Whitford, who, you guessed it, is Simon’s son and is just 14 years old, also competed in the Elite Youth division.

Whitford was the runner-up, posting a solid time of 1:07:56.

Thumbs up from Harry Whitford (left) on the podium with Rory Boyd (middle) and Cadel Cross (right).

The fastest overall result for the RTC came from Ben Osmand, who was the 48th male to cross the line out of 880 that competed.

He completed the course in a time of 1:04:21, placing him 4th in his age division – the 40-44 Male Sprint.

RTC is currently sitting in a very respectable 11th position in the Victorian club point series overall.

There are a total of 85 triathlon clubs involved.

“For the size of the (Riviera Triathlon) Club compared to the Melbourne powerhouse clubs that have hundreds of members, we’re doing very well,” Whitford said.

There are more team points, as well as individual points up for grabs at Race 6 of the 2XU Triathlon Series on Sunday, March 24, as the event moves down the coastline to Sandringham.

It is both the final event in the series and the final event of the season for the triathletes.

Riviera Triathlon Club athletes (from left) Simon Whitford, Ben Osmand, Ryan Vardy, Arki Vardy, and Mia Whitford.