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Silver service: Josh Amberger sets down a marker at Challenge Shepparton

In a strong field, the Australian triathlete produced the fastest swim and ride of the day.


On athlete Josh Amberger excelled in the heat at Challenge Shepparton, taking home the silver medal after a blistering start set him up for success. The half-distance triathlon was held at Victoria Park Lake precinct, just north of Melbourne, Australia.


Amberger sent a clear message to the rest of the field with a devastating early assault on the race. By the end of the swim, Amberger and Trent Thorpe held a one-minute lead over the rest of the pack. Amberger then accelerated away on the bike with a 2:04:14 split.


He was eventually overtaken by Max Neumann during the 21.1km run. But Amberger had enough in the tank to hold off the challenge of Steve McKenna, crossing the line in 3:46:14 to take second spot and make a dramatic improvement on last month’s sixth-placed finish at IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong.



We caught up with Josh post race to find out more.


How did you feel going into the race?


"I had a really poor 70.3 race two weeks prior to Challenge Shepparton. I felt really defeated and the result was quite difficult to deal with mentally. The upside was that I had enough time to recover, refocus and have another crack very soon after at Shepparton. So in my mind I was feeling very motivated before the event and in my body I was able to shed the fatigue that held me back in the 70.3. I felt much fresher by the time I hit the start line."


How did the race go for you? Talk us through it.


"It was a highly competitive race and overall a really fun and exciting race to be part of. The morning of the race was extremely cold, and I think we were all a little nervous about how we would cope with the low temperatures. I opted not to do a swim warmup, so as not to lose any energy in trying to keep warm. I think this helped me as I had a very good start, and I swam on the feet of super-swimmer Trent Thorpe. We exited the water together but I wanted to show my dominance on the bike leg – I worked hard from the beginning to find my rhythm.


"We had a 20m draft zone in this race, which made for very fair riding, and I was able to get a good time gap of two minutes by the halfway. This gap then increased to 2:15 to Max Neumann at 90 km, and almost four minutes to the other main competition.


"My running hasn't been in amazing form recently, so off the bike it was all about finding my own pace and trying to reduce the time I was losing to Max, who was closing the gap quite quickly. I lost my lead halfway through the run, but I was still able to hold off Steve McKenna to maintain 2nd place through to the finish line in what is my first podium finish of 2021."  


How did it feel to cross the line?


"It was a great feeling. I had to fight really hard on the last lap to hold my position so it was incredibly satisfying from that perspective, but also that I produced a much better race than two weeks prior, making the hard work all worth it."


How did the On shoes and gear perform?

"I raced in the Cloudboom, and I really love this shoe. It's gives me a really nice responsive feel with the ground, has a really nicely shaped pitch to the shoe and is very comfortable for half-distance racing."


What’s coming up next for you?


"There's an eight-week racing break for me, until the Cairns Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships event in June. So until then, I will go back to basics; working hard and minimizing my weaknesses on the race course."


Josh's shoe of choice
The lightweight, carbon-fiber-infused shoe engineered for fast marathons and road races.
See the Cloudboom


Three other On triathletes were also in action last weekend. Matt Hanson, Andreas Dreitz and Bart Arenouts finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in the IRONMAN 70.3 Texas on the Gulf Coast. Hanson’s run split of 1:09:16 was the fastest in the field, but he fell just short of a place in the podium.


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