Husband and wife Ben and Jacqui Allen both took the golden medal at Lake Crackenback as part of the Australian Cross Triathlon Championships on February 23.
After besting a grueling 1500m swim, 30km mountain bike ride and 10km trail run, the pair were able to celebrate together on the podium.
Ben was dominant from start to finish. Building up a lead in the first moments of the race and never looking back. His victory was never really put in doubt.
Jacqui enjoyed a strong race as well but found herself vying for first place with another runner who she coaches. However, when news that Ben had won reached her, she found the extra push she needed to propel her to victory.
Love conquers all, right?
Congratulations on a stunning double victory. Let’s start at the beginning; how and when did you guys meet?
Ben: Jacqui and I first met in Sardinia, Italy after an XTERRA race. I had a great race and managed to finish on the podium then I wowed her with my Australian accent and Aussie humor.
You’ve travelled the world together. Can you tell us about some of the adventures you’ve had?
Jacqui: We’ve had so many adventures - all of them unique in their own way. Apart from the incredible people we’ve met along the way, the experiences that stand out have to be the ones that weren’t funny at the time - times when we had very little cash to get ourselves out of situations.
We’ve been known to leave bike wheels and luggage at the airports because we simply could not afford the excess fees. Sometimes we got lucky but other times it ended in tears.
When traveling around the XTERRA Circuit in Europe, Benny brought a car for $500 - a Renault Saffron. Lord knows how we managed to fit four bikes, luggage, bike bags and the two people into it but we managed - with some items strapped to the roof. Unfortunately, the aircon didn’t work, so very hot days on the highway with the windows up were not fun.
We’ve had a lot of funny car experiences; we thought it would be a great idea to buy a car on the island of Saipan, when we were there for a couple of weeks. When a local said we could buy his for $100 we jumped at the chance - anything for a bit of freedom and to save the legs for race day. The evening before the race we ventured down the mountain where we were staying for pre-race briefing and dinner. As the opening ceremonies came to an end, we headed back up the mountain for an early night.
Half way up the hill the car broke down and Benny found himself pushing it up to a safe spot – and we still had a 3k walk up the mountain in pitch-black darkness before we got home to rest our heads for the night.
Not really what you need before a big race, however it didn’t do us much harm as we both finished on the top step of the podium. We can laugh about it now.
Jacqui, what was going through your head when you found out Ben had won? Did you want to do well like him?
Absolutely, heading out on to the final 3.3km lap, my Mum told me Ben had won by miles. A huge smile appeared on my face; I was so happy for him. I could see the race leader not far ahead and I thought to myself ‘come on Jaq, you can do this. How good would it be for you and Benny to stand on the top step together?’
I put in a lot of effort on the downhill section and caught the leading lady. Then I bided my time and caught my breath for a couple of minutes. With 1km to go, I put in a big surge and she couldn’t respond. I ran strong all the way to the finish line and crossed tape with a 30 second lead. It was one of the most exciting races I’ve been in and it gave me so much confidence to know I have that in me at the end of the race.
Hopefully there will be many more races where Ben and I can be on top step together as they certainly are very special moments that we will both cherish forever.