It was delight all around as Triathlon New Zealand and the NZOC confirmed the New Zealand team for the London Olympic Games at a function in Auckland on Wednesday afternoon.
Dave Currie made the announcement on behalf of the NZOC, confirming Andrea Hewitt (Christchurch), Kate McIlroy (Wellington), Nicky Samuels (Wanaka), Kris Gemmell (Palmerston North), Bevan Docherty (Taupo) and Ryan Sissons (Auckland) in the team for London.
Samuels and Sissons may have a slightly nervous wait however as New Zealand must finish inside the top 8 nations on the ITU Olympic rankings at the end of May for New Zealand to have three spots in either men’s or women’s races in London. In both cases New Zealand is comfortably inside the top 8 and has plans to contest key races in May to ensure they stay there.
Triathlon New Zealand has also confirmed that Debbie Tanner (Auckland) and Clark Ellice (New Plymouth) have been named as reserves in the event of injury or illness in the lead up to London.
Below are bios and reactions from each of the athletes heading to the London Olympics;
ANDREA HEWITT (Christchurch)
DOB: 4 April, 1982
Event: Individual Women
London will be Andrea’s second Olympic Games. In Beijing Andrea came in at 8th place. She picked up a bronze at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. Her career started when she was crowned the 2005 Triathlon World Champion U23 Elite in Gamagori, Japan. In 2007 she won her first World Cup race in. In 2011, Hewitt won the World Championship Series Grand Final in Beijing, China and placed second in the overall championship rankings. In the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series Andrea is ranked first heading into the Olympic Games.
“Qualifying early for the games has been a huge help for me and allowed me to concentrate on peaking at the right time of the year. My form at the moment is great considering I have not yet done any of the speed work that will be crucial in London. While it is some time since my nomination was confirmed to the NZOC, the naming of the team today is a very proud moment for me, my coach Laurent and my family.”
KATE MCILROY (Wellington)
DOB: 26 August, 1981
Event: Individual Women
Kate McIlroy is a former World Mountain Running Champion and steeplechaser who qualified for Beijing on the track but was forced to withdraw with injury. Named Sportswoman of the Year in 2005, since turning her attention to triathlon in late 2008 McIlroy has made every post a winner, taking out her first World Cup title in 2009 and finishing 6th at the World Champs Grand Final in Beijing in 2011, ending the year with a world ranking of 17.
“I am excited and proud to be named in the NZ Olympic Team; it is by far the highlight of my sporting career so far. Everything was on the line in Sydney; I finished with mixed emotions knowing I would have to wait a few days for the selectors to decide. The quality of the other NZ girls is world class, so I realise it has been a tough decision to narrow it down to the last two spots. It’s a massive relief to be named, now I can look forward to the next few months with a clear head and plan how I am going to get myself on the podium in London.
“It has been my lifelong goal to compete in the Olympic Games. I watched the 2008 Olympic triathlon on TV and thought’ this is a sport I could be good at’. I had the running legs; I just needed to learn the other two disciplines.
“At that stage I had never ridden a bike, so to get from that point to now be in the New Zealand team makes selection that little bit more rewarding and satisfying. My journey to get here has not been easy and it has been different to most but I have a great team around me, Greg Fraine has transformed me from a pure runner to a triathlete while Tim Brazier has taught me the art of swimming â€˜ITU style’.
“I am confident with where I am at now and will be working full steam ahead to get myself into a position where I will be a realistic medal chance for London. I have met my goals of learning the sport, making the Tri NZ squads and now the Olympic Games. Now my focus is to win a medal.”
NICKY SAMUELS (Wanaka)
DOB: 28 February, 1983
Event: Individual Women
Samuels is a fierce competitor and renowned as one of the leading cyclists on the triathlon circuit. Indeed Samuels is the current NZ National Road Champion, upsetting the fulltime cyclists in early 2012 to earn the title. She won her first World Cup race at Mooloolaba in 2011 and has overcome serious heart issues to continue racing, with two bouts of surgery in the past seven months.
“I have worked hard for this over the past three years with Coach Mark Elliott. If it had been handed to me on a plate it wouldn’t mean as much as it does. To go through two heart surgeries within six and a half months and come out the other side with Olympic Selection – the result I wanted, this is just perfect.
“I went into the race in Sydney knowing that my heart problems were now under control, my running was at the best it has been for four years, my fitness was at an ideal level for this time of year and I had nailed most of my key sessions with times all around what I was aiming for so I knew I was at my best coming into the race. I was aiming for that top 8 and automatic selection.
“I didn’t make the top 8 so I was naturally a little disappointed but I knew I performed really well so I was still happy with my result. I feel it was this result that confirmed my selection. The most exciting part is this selection and good race result comes just two and a half months after my last heart surgery so I know I have time to get more fitness gains especially much more from my running by London.
“Competing at the Olympics is something you dream of when you are a little kid. I was one of those kids who as an 11 year old wrote my goal on a piece of paper for school and one of them was â€œgo to the Olympicsâ€. I remember getting laughed at by one of my friends in my class and changing it on that piece of paper but definitely not in my heart. I am really proud to represent my country every year in triathlon around the world and the Olympics is the pinnacle event for the sporting community and to go there means a lot to us as athletes.
“I have achieved my goal of selection but let’s not stop here, you don’t want to be just selected for the Olympics and just go, you want to go with pride, knowing that you are the best person for the â€œjobâ€, in the best shape of your life and can get the best result you are capable of. While the Olympics is the goal, the Olympic Gold medal is the ultimate goal.”
BEVAN DOCHERTY (Taupo)
DOB: 29 March, 1977
Residence: Santa Cruz, California
Event: Individual Men
Bevan was part of New Zealand’s proud gold-silver moment at Athens 2004, when he took silver just seconds behind below Kiwi, Hamish Carter. In Beijing in 2008 Bevan came away with the bronze medal. London will be Bevan’s third Olympic Games. Bevan also won a silver medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and is one of the most decorated triathletes in the history of the sport.
“I have been focused on London for some time. After winning bronze in Beijing to go with my silver from Athens I made it clear the only thing missing was the gold to go with the collection. I have not wavered from that thought; that is my goal, to go to London and win gold. I am as excited about this opportunity as any in my career. They key for me now is to continue my preparation and peak on the right day to be at my best.”
KRIS GEMMELL (Palmerston North)
DOB: 28 April 1977
Birthplace: New Plymouth
Residence: Palmerston North
Event: Individual – Men
Kris booked his space for the London Games in Sydney. Kris competed in the 2002 Manchester and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He was sixth at Manchester and fifth in Melbourne, where he finished just ahead of countryman Hamish Carter. London 2012 will be his second Olympic Games. In Beijing 2008 Kris came 39th after suffering a horrendous foot injury in the lead up to the games, with his foot going through the spokes on his wheel in his final warm up race, leaving him with over 20 stitches.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle of most sports in the world. As a kid I dreamed about being there one day, in every one of those dreams I’m sure it ended with me winning gold. I am under no illusion as to how hard this will be but I am fully prepared to give it everything I have to make it happen on the one day that matters most.”
RYAN SISSONS (Auckland)
DOB: 24 July, 1988
Residence: Auckland NZ
Event: Individual Men
London will be Ryan’s first Olympic Games. Ryan was a London scholarship Holder. Ryan was a silver medallist at the 2010 U23 Triathlon World Championships, 2010 and 2011 NZ & Oceania U23 Triathlon Champion, 3rd at NZ Elite National Triathlon Champs 2010 and 2011, 19th at Sydney World Championship Triathlon Series 2010, 24th at Kitzhbeul World Championship Triathlon Series 2010. 3rd Ranked NZ Triathlete on ITU points. In 2011 Ryan ended the season ranked 19th in the world and 2nd in NZ. He also racked up 5 top 25 performances on the ITU World Series, coming 11th, 18th, 22nd, 14th, and 13th.
“Words cannot explain how I feel. I still don’t think it has sunk in that I am going to the Olympics!! After the race situation in Sydney and my crash in the early stages of the race I was extremely disappointed and upset that I couldn’t continue the race and show that I was capable of another good result. However I knew I had two other races banked and it was out of my control so there was nothing more I could do but wait for the selection.
“This means so much to me. It’s truly a dream come true and to be going alongside some of my best friends is going to be even better, especially with the experience that I know Bevan and Kris will bring to the team. For me this will be a great experience going to the Olympics at 24 years old, with the possibility of being able to compete in at least 1-2 more Olympics, it will truly be the best situation getting one under the belt before going to Rio 2016 hunting that Gold medal. I just can’t wait to get back into training and bet in my best possibly shape come August.
“My goal is not just to attend the Olympics. I’m going there to race well and race hard. My goal is a top 10. I know that if all goes to plan this is a realistic goal and I just can’t wait to get back into training, more motivated than ever. I will now plan with my coach and Tri NZ as to what needs to be done and what races I will be doing in order to ensure I am best prepared come race day. I can’t tell you how excited I am!”
DAMIAN PEDRESCHI – Triathlon New Zealand selection convenor
“The Triathlon NZ Selectors, Lynley Brown, Barry Larsen and I are very pleased that the selection process has delivered a formidable team of talented athletes to represent New Zealand at the London Olympic Games.
“Andrea, Kate, Nicky, Kris, Bevan and Ryan are superb athletes and wonderful ambassadors for the sport and the country. They have come through a comprehensive selection process and are deserving of their places on the start line in London.
“As selectors we were committed to ensuring a transparent, fair and rigorous process was agreed and implemented. That process was communicated to all athletes and coaches one year ago, with clear opportunities along the way to qualify for London, culminating in the Sydney race last weekend. We are confident this process has delivered 6 athletes who will represent New Zealand with pride and deliver outstanding results in London. That process has subsequently been ratified by the Tri NZ Board and the NZOC.
“While celebrating the success of those named today and wishing them and Greg well in London, we would like to acknowledge those athletes who were not selected, and highlight that it was a very difficult decision. It is their calibre that demonstrates the depth and talent of triathletes in New Zealand.â€
St. Anthony’s Triathlon Announced as 2018 USAT Regional Championship
USA Triathlon (USAT) has selected St. Anthony’s Triathlon as a 2018 Regional Championship Race. The 35th annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon will take place on April 29, 2018 with approximately 3,000 athlete participants competing over the race weekend.
As a USAT Regional Championship site, registered USAT athletes can qualify from the St. Anthony’s Triathlon for the 2018 Olympic-Distance National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio to be held on August 11, 2018. In order to qualify for the National Championships, competitors must finish in the top 33 percent or top five (whichever is greater) competitors per their respective age groups. In addition, this year’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon will also serve as the USAT Southeastern Regional Championship.
“We are proud to have been selected again as a USAT Regional Championship race,” said Susan Daniels, race director for St. Anthony’s Triathlon. “This event hosts some of the best athletes in the world, and we are honoured to offer triathletes the opportunity to qualify for the USAT National Championship on our St. Petersburg course.”
The St. Anthony’s Triathlon is also making some exciting changes to the event by extending the Sports and Fitness Expo from a two-day to three-day event and holding all Triathlon events in one park instead of two. The Sports and Fitness Expo will take place from April 27-29 St. Petersburg’s waterfront Vinoy Park. “Extending our sports and fitness expo gives our competitors more opportunities to check out the latest race gear and moving to one location, makes it more convenient for them,” said Daniels.
For kids and novice adults, the Meek & Mighty Triathlon occurs on April 28, and the main Triathlon, for both Olympic and Sprint distance races, runs on April 29.
Ironman 70.3 Geelong: Sam Appelton Too Strong and Nina Derron Wins in a Thriller
IRONMAN’s 40th Anniversary was celebrated in grand style and the gods were smiling with IRONMAN 70.3 Geelong replicating some of the sport’s greatest drama with a sprint, fall, stumble, lunge finish between Nina Derron (SUI) and Melbourne rookie Grace Thek. The men’s race also lived up to the excellence of the preceding decades with a stunning performance by defending champion Sam Appleton.
Spectators had been enthralled by the epic battle between Appleton, Josh Amberger, Jake Montgomery and Ryan Fisher but just when they thought they had seen a thrilling race, the guys were upstaged by the emotional and physical roller coaster that was the women’s event.
Barwon Heads local Claire Davis was the first female to reach dry land (26:07) with Kirralee Seidel, Nina Derron (SUI) and Grace Thek in touch and eager to get onto the 90km bike leg. Derron was looking to control the race and at 45km she had extended her lead to 3:30 over Davis, Thek and the charging Laura Dennis. Seidel picked up a penalty and lost touch completely, finding herself nine minutes down. At three quarter distance Dennis managed to ride herself into second place with Thek and Davis in a tight battle for third and fourth place.
With Swiss precision, Derron lead into T2 by five minutes over the chasing pair of Dennis and Thek, with the local hope a further minute down. In the second half of the 21km run things started to change radically. Derron started to feel the pinch and Thek literally found her feet and charged through the field to find herself leading her very first IRONMAN 70.3. Thek was heading for a 70.3 victory on debut and with the finish line in sight, the former US college runner started to pay the penalty for her early over-exuberance.
“I was hoping to do four-minute pace but for the first three km I found myself doing 3:30 and I really paid for it on the last lap. I was about four and a half minutes down off the bike and I didn’t know if that was achievable. When I was two minutes down with a lap to go I thought it was possible but the end was just devastating. When I passed Nina I just wanted enough room so that it didn’t come down to a sprint finish. I was really suffering with my legs over the last 6km and I was just trying to get forward momentum. I was getting all sorts of splits from people on the course, so I really didn’t know.”
“When I came into the finish chute I was thinking I am almost there, just stay in the game but I started sprinting which was a big mistake on my part because I knew that my legs were already suffering pretty badly. Then I fell the first time when my quads locked up. When I fell to the ground I saw Nina and she wasn’t as close as everyone had made out. So I quickly got up and started running and two metres before the line I fell over again. I was all over the place and got a bit of a nudge which didn’t help.”
“In hindsight, the sprint was not a good idea. It is a lesson learned, don’t listen to anyone except for my coach and people I trust. I don’t condone looking back in a race but looking for myself might have been a good move here. These are the things I can take into the next race. It is disappointing to be that close and not come away with the win but coming in, I had no expectations. It is my first 70.3 and has been a positive day, so I am eager for more now,” Grace said.
Derron’s win was her first over the IRONMAN 70.3 distance and while ecstatic with the result, she had great sympathy for Thek.
“I really struggled on the second lap of the run. I just had to stay focused because I knew that Grace was flying and I just tried to hold on to the lead for as long as possible. There were huge mind games going on in my head and people were telling me to go get her. She was 50m in front with only a 100m to go but I knew I couldn’t out sprint her. I saw her starting to stumble and then she fell and all I saw was the finish line and I accelerated and came past her.”
“It was a really strange finish to a really crazy day. I am happy for my win but I am also sad for Grace that it happened. It was her first 70.3 race so she did a really good job. It was another lesson I learned, that it is not over until it is over. Never give up, it is really true,” Nina declared.
In the men’s race, it was Aussie Olympian Ryan Fisher who took the swim honours (22:34), narrowly nudging out Josh Amberger over the glassy 1.9km course. As the pair headed to T1, they were hotly pursued by a bunch of three, defending champion Sam Appleton, Jack Tierney and Matt Franklin with the second chase pack that included Jake Montgomery almost a minute off the pace.
Appleton was keen to make up the swim deficit and in no time at all the lead duo became a trio, with the defending champion in touch and pushing the early pace. Only seconds separated the leaders at half distance with Jake Montgomery 20s further behind and riding himself into contention. The final kilometres of the ride saw some big moves from Lachlan Kerin, Montgomery and Jack Tierney. Off the bike, it was a bunch of six who entered T2 ready to celebrate the IRONMAN Anniversary by flogging each other senselessly over the super quick 21km coastal course.
Slick transitions had Appleton, Amberger and Fisher on the road first with Tierney, Montgomery and Kieran hoping to match pace over the opening kilometres. It was Appleton who was intent on inflicting some hurt and tearing up the tarmac and while the first small gaps started to appear it was only early days. At 10km Appleton looking strong and a minute to Fisher, with Amberger and Montgomery running shoulder to shoulder, with Tierney and Kieran in their own battle for fifth and sixth.
The defending champ knew what he had to do and despite suffering over the second half of the run he was able to pull it all together.
“It is the first race of the year and you don’t really know what to expect. I knew if I was fit, I just didn’t know if I was race fit. I gave it my best shot and fortunately, I was able to come away with the win. The guys kept me honest all day and it was really tough. There were six of us going into transition and that second pack rode really well. We rode really firm on the first lap and I didn’t expect to hit the U-turn and see them right there. You never want to go into the run with six guys, I would prefer there were less but I just had to back myself. I laid it out in the beginning and got a gap and then it was about holding on from there.”
“It is crazy that this sport only started 40 years and look at the evolution. Every year it changes and is getting faster and harder. I am proud to be part of the generation that is helping that evolution. I am honoured to be here in Geelong and be able to back up and defend my title. It is a great course here in Geelong, I love it. It is beautiful and one of my favourite races. It is really challenging on the run. The course profile doesn’t show it but it is really hard run. It has a bit of everything. I can’t wait to come back, I love opening up the season here,” he said.
1 Nina DERRON (#26) 04:26:11
2 Grace THEK (#31) 04:26:18
3 Laura DENNIS (#25) 04:29:38
4 Kirralee SEIDEL (#22) 04:33:36
5 Melanie BURKE (#23) 04:34:46
1 Sam APPLETON (#1) 03:45:52
2 Josh AMBERGER (#2) 03:47:21
3 Ryan FISHER (#5) 03:49:09
4 Jake MONTGOMERY (#3) 03:49:57
5 Jack TIERNEY (#16) 03:52:18
Bill Chaffey Throws Caution to the Wind in Commonwealth Games Countdown
Five-time World Champion Bill Chaffey will go into April’s Commonwealth Games in the best shape of his life after using all his experience to master today’s windswept conditions in the inaugural ITU Paratriathlon World Cup in Devonport.
The 42-year-old Gold Coaster made a spectacular return to elite racing for the first time since last May to defeat fellow Rio Paralympian Nic Beveridge (QLD), Germany’s Benjamin Lenatz, and Australian pair, former wheelchair basketballer Scott Crowley (SA) and Australian para cycling star Alex Welsh (Victoria).
And it came on a day which also saw reigning 26-year-old PTWC world champion Emily Tapp (QLD) dig deeper than she has ever done before, both mentally as well as physically to take out the women’s ITU World Cup title ahead of 29-year-old former Ironman triathlete Lauren Parker (NSW) in only her second major event, Japanese legend Wakato Tsuchida and the gritty Gold Coaster Sara Tait (QLD).
All competitors in the various paratriathlon categories, featuring the cream of Australia’s best and top flight internationals from Japan, Italy, Hong Kong, Canada and Germany showed amazing skill sets to handle the at times brutal head winds that circled through the Mersey Bluff in and around the Devonport Surf Club precinct.
For the wheelchair athletes, today’s results come in the countdown to the official announcement next Sunday of the Australian paratriathlete team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and for Chaffey and Tapp it has been a long time coming following their automatic nominations last April.
Chaffey has been the poster boy for Australia’s glowing Paralympic program which has seen him lead the team onto the world stage as one of the stand-out nations in world triathlon.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with that performance – to come back to Devonport and chalk up a win in probably some of the toughest conditions I’ve raced in is really pleasing,” said Chaffey.
“That wind was hard to handle even though we are close to the ground on our cycles – it’s still tough going.
“But I couldn’t be happier with my fitness – I’m in the best shape of my life and really looking forward to the Games in April.”
Tapp came into today’s race feeling a little under the weather and said her support team really played a major hand in getting her through.
“It hasn’t been the best of week’s health wise but it doesn’t matter come race day, it’s race day, “said Tapp, who qualified for the 2016 Paralympic team athletics team but was forced to withdraw when she accidentally burnt herself.
“Today was a big mental feat, when your body just isn’t there and able to give like it normally (does). We had smooth transitions and we executed our race plans so we’re happy.”
Parker, who was an outstanding open water swimmer and Ironman triathlete before an horrific training accident last April in Newcastle left her a paraplegic, and today was another major step in a road she never thought she would have to tread.
“Today didn’t go according to plan when I lost the band I put around my legs in the swim so it felt like I was swimming with a 10km weight on the end of my legs but we got through it and I know I have to work on my transitions but that will come,” said Parker, who will join the paratriathlete group on the Gold Coast next weekend for the Luke Harrop Memorial Race.
It was a successful return to top class racing for Paralympic gold medallist from Rio, Katie Kelly and new domestic guide Briarna Silk with Kelly admitting the race was “a real grind” given the windy conditions.
“But it was a great way to kick start the season that will hope fully culminate in the ITU World Championships on the Gold Coast in September and continues in Yokohama in a couple of weeks.”
Fellow two-time world champion Sally Pilbeam (WA) kept her impressive record in tact against fellow Australian world championship medallist Kerryn Harvey while Jonathan Goerlach win the Vision Impaired men’s event from fellow Australian Gerrard Gosens and Italy’s Maurizio Romeo.
Another stand out performance came from Queensland’s PTS5 athlete Josh Kassulke who was the first competitor across the line in another impressive performance he hopes will take him to the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020 in an all Aussie podium with Dale Grat second and Tony Scoleri third.
WA’s Rio Paralympian Brant Garvey (PTS2) also turned in a brilliant showing as did Albury Wodonga’s “Mr Fearless” Justin Godfrey in the in the PTS3.
Godfrey is the reigning World Cross Tri champion for his category and is a classic example of the kind of grit determination that spurs on Australia’s band of paratriathletes.
USA Paratriathlon National Championships to Return to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, in June
The 2018 USA Triathlon Paratriathlon National Championships will be held in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, as part of the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon for the second consecutive year, USA Triathlon announced today. The race will take place on June 24 at Prairie Springs Park and the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex.
National titles will be up for grabs in six sports classes as athletes complete a 750-meter swim in Lake Andrea, a 20-kilometre bike through Pleasant Prairie and neighbouring Kenosha, and a 5-kilometre run course finishing in the park. The Pleasant Prairie Triathlon is put on by Race Day Events, LLC, which specializes in event production and equipment rental throughout the Midwest.
“With the support of a strong local paratriathlon community, the organizers of the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon have celebrated athletes of all abilities for many years,” said Amanda Duke Boulet, Paratriathlon Program Senior Manager at USA Triathlon. “We look forward to returning to the beautiful venue of Prairie Springs Park this summer and once again enjoying the positive atmosphere that surrounds this race.”
“Race Day Events is very excited to be producing another National Championship event in Pleasant Prairie,” said Ryan Griessmeyer, President of Race Day Events and Race Director for the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon. “Pairing industry-leading event production with the Village of Pleasant Prairie’s world-class venue, participants are sure to have an unparalleled experience.”
“Pleasant Prairie is pleased to host the USA Paratriathlon National Championships for the second consecutive year as part of the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon,” said Sandy Wiedmeyer, Fitness Manager at the Pleasant Prairie RecPlex. “This is such an inspirational event to be a part of. Watching these exceptional athletes brings so much to the event and is the highlight of the weekend for many. We are grateful to be able to host such amazing talent again this year, and we look forward to making 2018 successful for all of the athletes.”
In addition to chasing national titles, athletes competing at Paratriathlon Nationals also have the opportunity to qualify for the USA Paratriathlon Development Team Program, which is designed to identify and develop athletic potential leading toward the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. More information on the USA Paratriathlon Development Team Program is available by clicking here.
The Pleasant Prairie Triathlon has included paratriathlon competition since its inception, but last year was its first time hosting the Paratriathlon National Championships. In 2017, 30 athletes competed for national titles while an additional 19 competed in the paratriathlon open division.
Athletes wishing to compete at Paratriathlon Nationals in 2018 must be officially classified in a paratriathlon sports class and must have completed a USA Triathlon or ITU Sanctioned Event that meets distance and time standards between May 1 and June 3, 2018. Athletes who are not classified or who do not meet the time standards may choose to race in the PC Open Division. A National Classification opportunity will be offered in Pleasant Prairie prior to the event. Complete details on qualification standards, as well as the link to register, are available at usatriathlon.org.
Challenge Wanaka: Javier Gomez and Annabel Luxford crowned 2018 champions
A thrilling day’s racing at Challenge Wanaka resulted in wins by Javier Gomez (ESP) and Annabel Luxford (AUS). Both had fierce battles with one of the deepest professional fields ever seen at a half distance triathlon in New Zealand and in tough conditions with four seasons in one day, from torrential rain and freezing temps to sweltering summer sun.
The men’s race may have seemed easy to call with Gomez headlining but it was anything but. The close nature of the race was evident as the men exited the swim in a tight bunch – Tony Dodds (NZL) and Dylan McNeice (NZL) first out in 23:12 with Gomez, Alexander Polizzi (AUS), Graham O’Grady (NZL) and Braden Currie all within nine seconds.
A quick transition by Currie saw him lead out on the bike but he had constant company from Gomez, McNeice and Dodds. By 45km Dodds had dropped back and the chase group of Luke McKenzie (AUS), Joe Skipper (GBR), Jesse Thomas (USA), Dougal Allan (NZL) and Luke Bell (AUS) had closed the three-minute deficit by a minute. By 70km it was getting exciting with the top eight within 22 seconds of each other. Skipper made a short dash for the front but was soon reined back in, McNeice fell off the back but caught up. Coming into transition it still seemed like it was anyone’s race.
However, it was the run where Currie and Gomez showed their metal, soon breaking away with Currie holding off Gomez until the top of the infamous Gunn Road hill at 12km where Gomez made his move. He took out the win knocking nearly 20 minutes off Braden Currie’s six-year-old course record in 3:57:27. Currie crossed the line 17 seconds later in second, taking the New Zealand National title with the USA’s Jesse Thomas running his way into third in 3:59:33.
“Braden put a lot of pressure on me and I had to run way faster than expected but I was very happy with how my fitness is,” said Gomez. “I love bike courses like this that are really up and down. We did a good job at the front but in the last 15k some of the guys caught us, which made it really tough. But luckily I managed to pace myself enough at the beginning of the run so I had some energy left for the end, which I really needed. It was a really tough day; I had to give absolutely everything to win. I really enjoyed it, it was a great course and a great day and thanks everyone for the support out there.”
It was a fast day with Tony Dodds securing a new swim record in 23:12, Dougal Allan set a new bike course record in 2:11:28 and Gomez also set the run course record of 1:12:39, a blistering pace on a course which is 80% off road.
In the women’s race, Luxford led out of the water and soon put in a solid lead over the rest of her opponents as she headed out on Glendhu Bay leg of the bike. The only woman to challenge her was Laura Siddall (GBR) who consistently gained time on her from four-minutes back. Siddall caught Luxford at the 70km mark and took the lead.
A quick transition put Luxford back ahead, which is where she stayed for the remainder of the race with a lead that fluctuated between 10 and 45 seconds. She won by the narrowest of margins – 11 seconds after 113km of racing putting Siddall in second in 4:27:13 for the fourth consecutive year. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) rounded out the podium in third in 4:38:11 and took the title of New Zealand Middle Distance Triathlon Champion.
“I was lucky to have a good swim and felt great on the first half of the bike but was losing quite a bit of time to Laura,” said Luxford. “When she caught me I knew I had to race tactically. She’s an old hand at this course and I certainly wasn’t going to give her anything. On the run when she started closing on me at the end, I saw her full distance strength coming through but managed to hold her off.”
It was also a fast race in the women’s with Luxford setting the course record in 4:27:02 as well as the swim course record in 25:49 and the run record in 1:24:00. Siddall set the bike course record in 2:27:26.
Zwift Set to Revolutionise Indoor Running
Zwift, the fitness platform born from gaming, has expanded its product offering to the running community with the launch of Zwift Run Free Access. Until this week Zwift Run was an Alpha product, available only to paying members of its indoor cycling service. Zwift Run will be now offered free of charge to everyone, in the run-up to a subscription service rollout, scheduled for late 2018.
Since launch in 2014, Zwift has revolutionized the indoor cycling market. The community-driven fitness platform has connected half a million cyclists worldwide to socialize, train and race in its rich virtual 3D environments. This January the Zwift community logged an average of 1 million miles (1.61 million km) per day, with major events attracting up to 3,500 participants. Zwift is now set to shake up the indoor run market in the same way by providing the most complete training solution for runners around the globe.
“Zwift Run is fantastic news for the fitness industry. In three years we’ve transformed the indoor cycling space by making the home ‘turbo trainer’ a super desirable product to own and an essential part of a cyclists training regimen. We’re going to give the same make-over to the treadmill.” commented Eric Min, Zwift CEO and Co-Founder. “Whether at home or in the gym, Zwift Run will make your indoor run workout experience more social, more motivating, more structured and more measurable.”
Zwift’s success in cycling originates from the massive multiplayer technology of the gaming industry and a track record of building huge online training communities. To date, Zwift has given birth to over 150 Facebook community groups with the largest making up 45,000 members, spanning pro athletes in search of the very best training experience, to everyday consumers looking for greater motivation to get fitter, stronger and faster.
Research points toward Zwift being able to boost participation in the fitness industry. To date, members of Strava, the social network for athletes, signing up to Zwift, on average, cycle 10% more per annum.
“We know many of our athletes are working out indoors as well outdoors, and Zwift has helped make indoor workouts more fun and motivating for many of our members,” notes David Lorsch, Strava’s VP of Strategy and Business Development. “Many of our new members are runners and we’re excited that runners on Zwift can now share their runs with their friends on Strava.”
Zwift also plans to bring its transformative effect to the hardware industry. “Hardware sales and innovation levels in cycling are rocketing because of Zwift. Manufacturers understand that closed connectivity is a thing of the past if they are to stay relevant. It’s well known in the cycling industry that sales of indoor training hardware are experiencing 100%+ YoY growth; in the most part due to Zwift’s trade marketing effect on indoor cycling. It’s our ambition to deliver this kind of value to treadmill manufacturers.”
Zwift Run will feature a library of training plans tailored to runners of all abilities. Zwift’s ‘Workout Mode’ is visually motivating, making nailing those intervals even more rewarding. Group Runs are broken down by pace, so Zwifters can find a run that best suits their needs. Zwift’s ‘gamified’ experience also challenges members to earn experience points and move up levels to unlock virtual goods. Zwift is collaborating with a number of running industry brands like New Balance, Hoka and Under Armour to bring in-real-life footwear and apparel to its virtual world.
Integration with Strava allows Zwifters to share runs with their community of friends, recording virtual miles and keep record of best times across Strava segments. As of February, virtual miles recorded in Zwift can also count towards Strava challenges.
Zwift Run is compatible with all treadmills by using Bluetooth or ANT+ footpods. Footpods are connected to iOS devices, Apple TV, or laptop/desktop computers and calibrated to the treadmill speed in the Zwift App. A rising number of Bluetooth ready treadmills can also connect directly to Zwift, without the requirements of footpod. Digital connected footwear is also part of the picture with Zwift collaborating with Under Armour on its smart shoe range.
“Technogym believes in connected wellness. Our offer, centred on the MyWellness open cloud platform, is a complete ecosystem of smart connected equipment surrounded by content and services to provide unique and engaging training experiences” said Nicola de Cesare, Digital Division Director for TechnoGym. “Now, Technogym’s MyRun and MyCycling compatibility with Zwift allows both runners and cyclists to enjoy the very dynamic, engaging and interactive environment of the Zwift platform with a consistent training experience across the two products”
Essentially a Beta product, Zwift and the user community will further refine the run app in 2018, adding new product components and expanding the current schedule of events, races, and group workouts.
Zwift Run Free Access can be downloaded from www.zwift.com or via the App Store.
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