Vineman 70.3 resembled an annual Aussie / Kiwi picnic with 13 in the top 25 combined places. The race was officially won by Ozzie Greg Bennett and USA’s Meredith Kessler. Kessler was only just ahead though of Melissa Hauschildt (Rollison) who is coming back from a long layoff from running.
Joe Gambles had a solid crack at reeling in Bennett with a race fast 1:11:27 run over two minutes quicker than Bennett. This was no mean feat as Bennett is one of the quicker runners around.
The Aussie men’s podium clean sweep was rounded out by Paul Matthews who always seems to be there. Maybe the St George Illawarra Dragons should get him down to training to have a chat about consistency (and yes they did win this weekend).
Possibly the most pleasing performance from a self assessment perspective was Chris Kemp’s race. Kempy is one of the best over the three disciplines but has struggled in recent times with putting one of his trademark fast runs on to the back of his solid and often race leading swim / bike combo.
It is good to see Terenzo Bozzone back racing strongly after 2011 was a write off.
Brandon Marsh had a crack at spoiling the informal ANZAC day and managed to hold out Kiwi Graham O’Grady, Luke McKenzie and Ollie Whistler. Whistler once again had a slower than normal bike leg. For McKenzie this was his first race in the US and his lack of running over recent months showed when off the bike he saw Joe Gambles disappear in to the distance soon followed by Bozzone, and after a battle with Chris Kemp for a bit he was eventually passed by Brandon Marsh and Graham O’Grady. Kona is McKenzie’s focus with an improvement on last year’s 9th place firmly in his sights.
Meredith Kessler had over three minutes head start on the bike over Mel Hauschildt and then put another 20seconds on her on the bike. This was just enough to hold out a very fast finishing Hauschildt. Speaking with Mel last week she was very nervous about this run as she had not run more than 25mins at a time and not for more than three days in a row. Can’t wait for her to get her run back although the rest of the women will be hoping it takes longer.
Rebekah Keat was back racing again after she had to pull out of Ironman Cairns 4kms in to the run while leading. She had injured her calf and was devastated at the time. As a pro she watched a large payday disappear.
Jo Lawn is just getting the next phase of this year started. She has recently moved from NZ to Boulder to kick start her Vegas and Kona campaigns. Good to see that she managed to hold out ‘Mr Lawn’ Armando Galarraga by 22 seconds.
Rounding out the Aussie / Kiwi fields were Clayton Fettell and New Zealand’s Julia Grant. Fettell is fully focused on Las Vegas 70.3 World Champs and raced on the back of a big 6 week block and just didn’t have anything left in the tank.