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Olympic Hopeful and Reigning Champ Conquer Dirt n Dust

Emma Jackson and Sam Betten take out Australia’s Toughest Triathlon

Olympic hopeful Emma Jackson and reigning title-holder Sam Betten won one of Australia's Toughest Triathlons in Julia Creek, North West Queensland this morning (Saturday, April 21, 2012).

The Julia Creek Cannington Dirt n Dust Triathlon saw a record 356 competitors line up at 10am to tackle an 800m swim through muddy Eastern Creek, a 25km ride across an empty highway and a 5km run through the tiny outback town.

First-time competitor and 2012 London Olympics contender Emma Jackson was a last minute addition to the race following a disappointing end to the Olympic qualifiers in Sydney last week.

"I had a horrible race last week, I expected a lot more from myself, so I wanted to come out to Julia Creek this weekend, do something different and get away for a bit," said Jackson.

"It was a tough race -- and one that certainly lives up to its name with all the dirt and dust -- but I'm happy to have finished and come away with a win.

"I had no idea how far [second place getter] Rachael Paxton was behind me on the bike but I knew coming into T3 that she wasn't far behind so I just had to try and hold on," Jackson said.

Sam Betten returned to the Dirt n Dust Triathlon for the fourth time after winning last year's event on a fractured foot. A spate of injuries had seen him sidelined for the last 12 months, with this morning's event his return to competitive racing.

"It was great to win this event for the second year in a row," said Betten.

"It's always hard to back up a win because there's added pressure to do so. I think everyone looks to you and to what you're doing and that does change how you go out there and attack the race.

"The normally harsh environment wasn't too bad out there surprisingly; it's a cooler day today and a gentler wind than the infamous one Dirt n Dust regulars are used to. There was a little bit of wind, but I just put my head down and went for it.

"My speeds peaked at about 50k an hour which I'm incredibly happy with," Betten said.