Blistering sun and driving headwinds couldn’t stop members of the ADF Triathlon Club delivering some impressive performances at the Cairns Ironman on June 6.

Captain Daniel Judd tore through the 70.3 half Ironman circuit to finish second of the 88 competitors in the 45-49 age group with a time of just over 4 hours and 44 minutes.

Novice Ironman Lieutenant Duane Russell delivered a near-flawless performance in the full-course event, powering across the line in just over 9 hours 52 minutes as the first ADF finisher and 107th overall out of 1105 competitors.

They were part of more than 50 ADF triathletes who competed in the Cairns events, which attracted a sold-out field of about 3000 competitors.

Choppy conditions met athletes on the swim leg, but this didn’t phase swimming gun Captain Judd.

“Glassy water is faster, but I prefer the choppy conditions because it slows people who aren’t strong swimmers,” he said.

“It specifically slows the really strong bike riders.”

Emerging from the water, competitors ground it out on a bike leg that featured hills, bumps and a tormenting headwind the entire 65km from Port Douglas to Cairns.

Athletes tried to stay as low and aerodynamic as possible, while conserving what energy they could for the upcoming run.

“It was punishing, and I was started to fatigue. But I’d done plenty of rides – up to about 200km during training – so I knew nothing was going to stop me finishing,” Lieutenant Russell said.

Private Sarah Vicary, centre, at the start of the swimming leg in the 70.3 half Ironman in Cairns. Photo: Warrant Officer Class 2 Max Bree.

After transiting to the run, competitors entered a drawn-out foot race up and down the Cairns esplanade.

ADF triathletes waved and yelled encouragement while passing each in distinctive white, blue and red camouflage tri-suits.

As Lieutenant Russell rounded a tight corned onto the stretch of red carpet near the finish line, he said it dawned on him how well he’d performed.

“I saw my time was much better than I was expecting, so I slowed down on the carpet and I tried to give my family a hi-five,” Lieutenant Russell said.

In the finish line’s carnival atmosphere, the MC declared “Duane Russell, you are an Ironman”.

“I was a good feeling to finish but the body was pretty sore immediately after,” Lieutenant Russell said.

Captain Judd’s second-place finish would normally have secured a position at the 70.3 world championships in the US, but travel restrictions mean he can’t attend.

However, Captain Judd already has a sport reserved at the 2022 world championships in New Zealand, following a held-over qualification from another event.

Craftsman Andrew Hermitage in the bike leg of the 70.3 half Ironman in Cairns. Photo: Warrant Officer Class 2 Max Bree