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70.3 vet takes the women’s race, rookie wins the men’s at 70.3 season opener in Australia

Jake Birtwhistle nails his first 70.3, while Ellie Salthouse runs to women's title in Tasmania

She might have felt under the weather going into the race, but that didn’t stop Ellie Salthouse from opening her 2023 season with a win at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Tasmania held in nipaluna/Hobart. For the men it was Olympian Jake Birtwhistle who took the day, running to a 15-second win in his first Ironman 70.3 event.


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Salthouse runs clear

Typically a frontrunner who likes to hit T2 with a lead, Salthouse and Chloe Hartnett traded leads on the bike before they were joined at the end of the 90 km ride by Penny Slater and Grace Thek. Once out on the run, though, Salthouse quickly pulled clear of the other four and stayed ahead for her 14th Ironman 70.3 title.

“The plan was to go from the gun and be on my own all day, but I had some company which was a surprise, but I just stuck to my plan and I knew my run legs were really good,” Salthouse said. “I’ve been training well on the run so I had to back myself when all four girls came together and luckily it paid off. It wasn’t my best day performance wise, I was a bit sick earlier in the week. I was questioning whether I was even going to come down, but I came good and ended up coming down. I was just lacking a little bit of power today and a little bit of a lack in energy, but to take the win is really special. My parents are here and my boyfriend is here, it’s really nice to be able to race in Australia.”

“I tried to go from the start, and when I got a little gap that was when I knew I might have had better legs today,” Salthouse continued. “You don’t want to be running with Grace (Thek) breathing down your neck, she’s quite a fast runner typically, so I had to have a bit of a gap. I couldn’t slack off at all. To finish last year with a win and to start this year with a win means that the Aussie campaign is off to a great start and hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”

Women’s Results

  1. Ellie Salthouse – 4:25:08
  2. Grace Thek – 4:26:06
  3. Penny Slater – 4:29:36
  4. Sophie Perry – 4:35:00
  5. Chloe Hartnett – 4:35:00
  6. Meredith Hill – 4:36:43
  7. Ai Ueda – 4:37:41
  8. Ellen Guiney – 4:40:55
  9. Cassandra Heaslip – 4:55:57

Birtwhistle takes the home win


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Hometown hero Jake Birtwhistle made an impressive 70.3 debut, staying near the front through the entire race to take a close win. Birtwhistle was out of the water with Josh Amberger, and the two stayed clear on the bike through 80 km of the 90 km bike course before being joined at the front by five others. Those seven hit T2 within 30 seconds of each other, with Caleb Noble surging clear to a minute lead at one point. Birtwhistle steadily pulled back, though, taking the lead with 5 km to go and holding on for the win.

“I’m stoked, that was a really cool race and to win on debut is pretty special and to do it at home in Tasmania is something even cooler,” Birtwhistle said. ” The first event of Ironman in Tassie, so I’m really stoked to put my name first on that list of winners and hope to come back in the future years.  It was really cool to race here in Tassie, I don’t get the chance to do that often and especially at an event of this level … To have all the support out on course was really special as well. It was a tough day and they definitely helped get me through.”

“My first time racing this distance I didn’t want to go too early, even when I hit the lead I wanted to turn the screws a bit, and all of a sudden started cramping instantly,” Birtwhistle continued. “So (I) went from trying to get away with a lead to battling myself for a while. Mitch (Kibby) was then coming in real hot in the last kilometre, so I had to keep pushing through, it was a really hard race and I’m stoked.”

Men’s Results

  1. Jake Birtwhistle – 3:49:21
  2. Mitch Kibby – 3:49:36
  3. Caleb Noble – 3:50:17
  4. Josh Amberger – 3:55:17
  5. Kurt McDonald – 3:56:39
  6. Jack Sosinski – 3:59:22
  7. Matthew Roberts – 4:03:50
  8. Matt Burton – 4:04:34
  9. Calvin Amos – 4:10:00
  10. Matt Lewis – 4:14:45