Haines grabs second Upper Murray Challenge title, whilst Deanna Blegg counted her 4th victory. Full results >>> 


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Luke Haines powered to his second straight Upper Murray Challenge title in Corryong then declared he would return next year for a crack at a third crown.

The Geelong athlete pulled away in the 26km paddle leg of the men’s open race on Saturday, clocking an impressive 5hr 33min 34sec.

He was less than a minute off the course record of 5hr 32min, set by Jeremy Ross in 2006.

When informed he had almost set a new record in the 89km race — a mountain bike, kayak and run endurance test — Haines said: “I should have gone a bit harder”.

James Pretto was second in 5hr 43min 9sec with Klayten Smith third in 6hr 5min 37sec.

It was a smash-and-grab race for Haines, who was yesterday back in Geelong watching the cycling world championships.

“I drove back to Geelong last night to watch the world titles and I feel really good,” Haines said.

“I knew I had done all the work and knew I was faster than last year.

“I took 14 minutes off my mountain bike time which I was happy about. The legs have pulled up better than last year.”

A breakdown of Haines’ race reads; 1:44.56 for the mountain bike leg; 1:41.12 for the paddle and 2:07.25 for the run.

He said he would be back to defend his title next year.

“For sure. This is my sixth time and I love coming back to the area,” he said.

Haines will now turn his attention to defending his title in this weekend’s Freycinet Lodge Challenge in Tasmania.

Meanwhile, Deanna Blegg won an unprecedented fourth consecutive open women’s Upper Murray Challenge title, again beating Skye Taylor to the line.

Jodie Street was third.

Despite a small drop in competition numbers from last year’s record of 178, race organiser Peter Dikschei was thrilled with the event.

“Extremely happy,” he said.

“It all went really well and the weather was great so we had a wonderful day.”

Dikschei said he would “address” the small drop in entrant numbers, that were affected by the AFL grand final replay and the world championships.