FORMER Horsham man Shane Miller walked away a winner from the annual Horsham Triathlon in more ways than one on Saturday.
Not only did Miller, 33, win the mixed teams event category, he also became engaged mid-race.
Miller, now of Kew, stopped mid-way through his cycling leg to propose to his girlfriend of 10 years Veronica Milich.
The proposal came as a complete surprise to Milich.
"No-one knew I was going to do it," Miller said.
"I told Von to be waiting on the side of the road with a drink bottle for me.
"When I got to her, I pulled up and my heart rate was sky-high. I was feeling pretty nervous.
"I don't really remember much of it. She was speechless but she said yes - that was the important part."
Miller's family were on the sidelines with Milich at the time and erupted into cheers of joy.
Miller then completed the cycling leg, helping his team, which included his sister Katie Taylor and Mark Hutchinson of Horsham, win the mixed teams section for a second consecutive year.
Miller said he felt the timing was right to propose.
"I should have proposed to her years ago but I never found the right moment," he said. "She has followed me racing for years and years and I was racing where I grew up.
"I know these roads and I was racing in front of my home crowd.
"To finish the race as an engaged man, it's special."
Miller said he and his new fiancee celebrated with a family dinner on Saturday night.
Tri-Horsham president Mark Pumpa said the proposal helped top off a fantastic event.
"When I heard about what happened I couldn't believe it," he said.
Mr Pumpa said record entries braved the hot conditions to compete, with 120 competing in the junior section and 110 in the open category.
"We hoped for 200 entries and we well and truly exceeded that," he said.
Geelong athlete Anthony Goss won the men's triathlon, smashing the course record in the process.
Goss won in 57 minutes and 14 seconds, shaving four minutes and nine seconds off the previous course record.
Echuca athlete Steve Gray, who held the record and was four-time defending champion, finished second.
Horsham's Susie Ellis won the women's triathlon.
"It was a really good day, with no accidents," Mr Pumpa said.
Two-time world champion Emma Carney planned to compete but was ruled out on advice from her cardiologist.
Instead Carney was the race starter.
"Emma was great, she spoke to a lot of people and signed autographs," Mr Pumpa said.
"I took her for a drive along the course and she couldn't believe how beautiful the Wimmera River is.
"She hopes to compete here next year, it won't take much to convince her to come back."
For more pictures from the event, see today's Mail-Times.
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