The very best of Australia’s Off Road Champions line up for A Weekend of ‘Hurt in the Dirt’
9th & 10th March, Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa, Snowy Mountains

Last weekend saw the very best of Australia’s Off Road Athletes lining up for the inaugural Australian Cross Triathlon Championships in the hope of being crowned as Australia’s official Cross Triathlon Champion and to qualify for the World ITU Championships in the Hague in July.

Hosted in one of Australia’s most iconic locations, the Snowy Mountains provided the backdrop and playground for over 250 off road athletes.  Athletes were also treated to the 4.5 star luxury of the Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa which provided a huge helping of luxury amongst all the hardcore action.

Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa General Manager Scott O’Neile said he was pleased to see so many athletes test the trails at Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa.

We made a considerable investment in developing our mountain bike park and will continue to fine-tune our facilities so they are attractive to professional as well as age-group competitors.  When the word gets out about how good this event was, I expect that we’ll be receiving nominations from all over Australia,” said Scott.

The Snowy Mountains turned on some of the best weather in Australia as blue skies and a spectacular sunrise welcomed Australian Championship contenders on Saturday morning.

The Swim: 1000m

With a wetsuit swim confirmed, first to line up were the open male and female contenders. Lake Crackenback looks incredibly beautiful from the shore, but it was soon to be a story of ‘Pleasure and Pain’ as swimmers pushed themselves through the gruelling 1000m swim around the circumference of the lake.

Dan Neilson took an early lead exiting the water and making the 150m run to transition in 11:20 with almost 40s over Adam Rudgley in second and a minute over Brayden Tucker in third.

It was a beautiful day in the Snowy’s but with a wetsuit swim the usual problems came further down the field with a bit of cursing as people struggled to escape from the hold of tight fitting wetsuits.

In 9th out of the swim overall Katrina Skellern lead the female open category out of the water in 15:34 with Sophie Bos 25s behind and Wendy Walker third just 15s later.

Mountain Bike: 1 x 24km Lap

The mountain bike was a one lap course which included 24km of some of the best single track riding in the country. The Australian Champs course encompassed two alpine lakes, Thredbo River, Kosciuszko National Park and spectacular views of the Thredbo Valley and Ram’s Head Range. The resort’s mountain bike facilities rate with the very best in the nation, highlighted with sculpted flowing single track and the Caroline Buchannan Mountain Bike Park.
No open roads or cruisy trails here, the course challenged riders with undulating fast sections of flowing single track which meant that legs were pumping all the way. Riders who were both technically skilled and able to carry speed through the tight terrain definitely held an advantage.

Dan Neilson rode a solid 58:35 on the bike to maintain a slender lead as they hit T2 but Jarad Kohlar had smashed out an amazing 56:23 to put himself into second with Tim Boote riding a similar time coming into T2 hot on Jarad’s rear wheel. Brayden Tucker was just 35s behind as they hit the trails on foot.

Meanwhile the female open race had seen similar changes in position as the tough bike course made riders work hard, Connie Silvestri put in a 1:03:00 24km ride to take the lead with Wendy Walker racing into T2 right on her back wheel, Sophie Bos and Katrina Skellern came in third and fourth respectively having dropped a little time on the bike and hit the trails at the same time.

Trail Run: 2 x 4km laps

The last leg of the event proved the most challenging with two laps of a highly technical 4km trail run course.  It was not going to be a walk in the park to take out the Australian Championships.  With legs throbbing off the mountain bike contenders were then faced with challenges which included a Suspension Bridge, technical trails, Rocky Scrambles, Boggy Marshes, Plank Bridges, mud and the most popular section the river run and creek crossing.

There would be no cruising to the end of this event, runners would have to draw on every last ounce of strength, stamina, agility and sheer grit and determination to make it to the finish.

Dan Neilson dropped a little time on the run as Jared and Tim chased hard but at the end of the second lap Dan crossed the line first to take the honours in the inaugural Australian Cross Triathlon Championships in 1:44:10 with just 30s lead from Jared Kohlar and Tim Boote only 20s behind him. Brayden Tucker crossed 4th in 1:48:15 with Adam Rudgley 5th in 1:51:45.

Connie Silvestri with a consistently strong run leg managed to pull away from Wendy Walker over the technical course and crossed the line first to take the honours in 1:19:50 with Wendy Walker second in 1:20:45. Sophie Bos and Katrina Skellern chased hard but in the end crossed 3rd and 4th respectively in 2:02:54 and 2:04:59

Connie Silvestri is truly an amazing athlete, she is the reigning Tre-X Cross Triathlon Series Champion and she also holds all three state titles in NSW, Victoria and Queensland in the Australian Dirt Mistress Championship.  Connie has a great passion for the sport and inspires her athletes as head coach of the Queensland Off Road Triathlon Squad (QORTS).  We were lucky enough to have a few words with Connie after the event.“I was pleasantly surprised by how technical the run course was.  A guy I was running next to said “I wasn’t expecting tough mudder”.  I’ve raced a lot of courses both across Australia and overseas at X-Terra and this course was up there as my favourite.”

This was Dan’s first Tre-X event.  His background in Surf Life Saving winning numerous national medals before moving to adventure racing and the Xterra Series, winning his age group at the Philippines to secure a spot in the world championships, as well as Ironman competition stood him in good stead for the Australian Championships.

After the event Dan told us, “I congratulate you on such a wonderful course. It had everything. I really enjoyed the fast flowing single trail, the scenic location, the varied and challenging terrain on the run course. Not to mention the wildlife that was spectating along the way. The course was well marked and didn’t feel at any time I was going to get lost at any time. As for the race my strong leg is the swim. My goal was to get out in front and see how long I could last. I knew Jared from a few adventure races and knew how strong he was on the run and bike.

On the bike I tried to stay relaxed and get into a good rhythm and not make any mistakes. On the run I was a little cautious on the first lap keeping a little in reserve if anyone was to catch me. At times it felt like they were breathing down my neck. I was very happy to come away with the win. I am defiantly looking forward to coming back and trying to defend my title next year.”

NSW Dirt Master & Dirt Mistress Championship

As well as this being the Australian Cross Triathlon Championship, a select few chose to put their bodies on the line in the hope of securing the title of Dirt Master or Dirt Mistress.

Dirt Master Contenders pushed themselves to the limit by taking on three hardcore off road events across two days of competition including:

  • Saturday: Australian Cross Triathlon Championships 1000 – 24 – 8
  • Sunday AM: Sprint Distance Cross Triathlon 500 – 12 – 4
  • Sunday PM: 12km Trail Run

At the end of the 12km Trail Run on Sunday afternoon, the Finish Line was truly a welcome site for these select few who completed the challenge to take home a Dirt Master title.  Welcoming the following athletes to the Dirt Master Hall of Fame.

The State title went to the male and female with the fastest cumulative time across all three events.  The weekend wound up with the crowning ofJarad Kohler from Melbourne Tri Club as NSW Dirt Master Champion in a time of 3:12:02.  And Connie Silvestri from QORTS (for the second consecutive year) as NSW Dirt Mistress Champion in a time of 3:40:15.

Jarad Kohlar is a professional multisport adventure racing athlete and founder of Peak Adventure – a Melbourne-based company specialising in multisport and adventure racing training programs.

When asked about the event Jarad told us, “Tre-X NSW at Lake Crackenback Resort provided the perfect location, perfect weather and perfect course for a world-class weekend of off-road racing. This event is truly worthy of the Australian Cross Championship title.”

A Community Weekend for the Entire Family

The Australian Championships and NSW Dirt Fest weren’t just about our elite athletes.  Competitors from the local community and right across Australia including mums, dads, kids and those trying their first triathlon event lined up for a wide range of events and distances throughout the weekend including:

  • The Sprint, Junior & Dirt Kids Cross Triathlon;
  • 12km Trail Run and 4km Fun Run; and
  • The free Mud Rats fun run for our littlest off road champions.

It was fantastic to see such a strong turn out from the local community and schools with some of the notable performances including:

  • Michelle McFarlane from Crackenback: Winning her age group in the Australian Champs and taking home the title as Dirt Mistress.
  • Cynthia Trevallyn from Jindabyne: Placing 3rd in her age group at the Australian Champs and taking home Dirt Mistress Title.
  • The Crackenback Old Boys including Graham Windeatt, Brent Johnson and Scott O’Neile from Crackenback winning the Teams event at the Australian Champs
  • Scott O’Neille from Crackenback: placing 2nd in his age group at the 12km Trail Run
  • LCR Activate including Georgia Lynch, Matt Tripet and Matt Caldwell from Crackenback winning the Sprint Distance Teams Event.

Our Up & Coming off Road Champions

The best part of the weekend was to see our up and coming champions of tomorrow tackling the Dirt Kids Cross Triathlon course.  This was a fun, non-competitive event for 7 to 10 year olds who showed the professionals how it was done with a 50m Swim, 3km Mountain Bike and 500m trail run.  The enthusiasm and energy these young ones showed was inspiring for everyone who had the privilege to watch.

The weekend rounded out with, what for the entire crowd, was the stand out event of the weekend.  Our littlest Mud Rats of all ages, some just finding their feet in the world took on a fun run at Race HQ which included a beach run and slip and slide obstacle before the big sprint to the finish.  What can we say… the pictures speak for themselves.

2014… Lock It In

2013 was such a wonderful success the team are proud to announce that Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa will be hosting the event on the 22nd & 23rd February in 2014.

So, if you’re an off road champion, mountain bike enthusiast, love trail running, prefer your action in the dirt, or just want to try something completely new and exciting, we look forward to seeing you in 2014.  At the close of the event 2013 competitors were already booking accommodation for next year, so get in early and don’t miss out.

Find out more at


January 3rd, 2014 / Media Release