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Nicola Spirig wins Olympic Triathlon Gold by the Narrowest of Margins

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The women’s Olympic triathlon competition was met with grey skies, wetsuit temperature water, and a slick course that challenged athletes every step of the way. While the past three Olympic Games have seen surprise winners, London seemed to break the spell when three favorites made the podium.

In a nailbiting all-out sprint to the finish, Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig edged out Sweden’s Lisa Norden in triathlon’s first ever photo finish for Olympic gold. Australia’s Erin Densham took third, coming in just two seconds later at 1:59.50.

Three very happy women - Credit: Triathlon.org | Delly Carr / ITU

“I had a feeling but I wasn’t really sure so I needed an official to tell me, and it took a few minutes and those minutes were really hard,” Spirig said. “I would have been happy to win a medal but of course it’s a big difference if you win gold or silver, so it’s just amazing, I’m a bit speechless.”

However, their medals were not always secure, given they all had more than a minute deficit exiting the 1.5km in The Serpentine. Dressed in wetsuits for the 19.6-degree water, five women immediately churned for the lead after the start of the swim, headed by the oldest Olympian on the course, 37-year old Laura Bennett (USA).

Rookie Olympian Lucy Hall (GBR) took over on the turn, leaving Claudia Rivas (MEX) to swim between them. Line Jensen (DEN) swam on their feet, creating a small gap, while the pack of nearly 50 women swam seconds back.

Just over midway through the swim, the amphibious Hall, Jensen, and Pamela Oliveira (BRA) swam single file to move a line of four more women into a sizeable lead over the chase pack. The remainder of the top seven included Rivas, Bennett, Jessica Harrison (FRA), and Mariko Adachi (JPN), while the rest trailed at a sizeable distance.

Hall left the lake first, followed by Jensen and Adachi. Harrison emerged in seventh 22 seconds later. With a minute advantage, the group quickly came together to carry their small pack onto the bike course. Behind them, the giant group scrambled to get out of their wetsuits and onto their bikes, led by two-time Olympian Norden.

Erin pushed the pace on the run all day - Credit: Triathlon.org | Delly Carr / ITU

Shortly into the first lap, Oliveira slid out on her bike while maneuvering around a corner, causing her to fall out of second place. Bennett managed to miss the crash, as did the other six leading women. Oliveira slowed to join the chase pack, which had already made up considerable space in the first lap. Unfortunately, the first lap was plagued by crashes on a course which was showered with rain late in the night. Most notably amongst those who hit the pavement was Emma Moffatt (AUS). The Beijing bronze medallist was forced to withdraw from the race after the crash, which also involved Italy’s Annamaria Mazzetti.

By the end of the first lap, Adachi rode through the transition area with the fastest swimmers, but not without heat from the chase group. Spain’s Ainhoa Murua, who swam in the pack of athletes, came charging through the first lap having made up 33 seconds.

With Murua at the top, the chase pack joined the lead to create a group of 22 women. Included in that group were Helen Jenkins (GBR), Lisa Norden (SWE), Nicola Spirig (SUI), Anja Dittmer (GER), Erin Densham (AUS), Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Sarah Groff (USA) and Emma Jackson (AUS).

“I didn’t feel good in the swim and obviously I realised coming out of the water I was in a group with the main players, so that was a relief,” Densham said. “And then on the bike it was obviously about staying out of trouble, a couple of girls came down on the first lap and I got caught behind it but I managed to stay upright.”

After the third lap, the lead group had gained an advantage of nearly a minute and a half. Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) worked at the head of the chase group to pull up the group of 26 women. France’s Carole Peon and Emmie Charayron, as well as Anne Haug (GER) rode with Riveros Diaz.

However the powerful lead pack, which included a deep field of favorites, proved to be too fast, advancing another 16 seconds to increase their lead to 1 minute, 48 seconds. On the fourth lap, Svenja Bazlen (GER) led the group of 22, which spanned across just three seconds.

The group worked efficiently, signalling to one another for new lead changes throughout the narrow and twisting seven-lap course. With Spirig at the helm on the fifth lap, the ladies grinded ahead another 20 seconds for a 2 minute, 8 second advantage.

While Spirig often rode in the front of the peloton, other favourites like Hewitt, Densham, and Norden opted to ride in the middle, along with Murua, conserving energy to battle on the run. Hall also often led the group, as she did on the sixth lap, with ease and control in an attempt to thwart the competition from teammate Jenkins. Armed with more than a two-minute lead, the ladies backed off their pedals slightly, gearing up to transition into the four-lap 10km run.

Following the transition, that saw veteran German Anja Dittmer leave for the run course first, Great Britain’s Jenkins wasted no time moving herself to the front of the pack in front of a deafening crowd. With Olympic dreams on the line, a group of ten women started to break away from 22-person pack midway through the first lap of the run.

The group was led by Densham, Jenkins, Spirig, Norden and Murua, while Groff, Hewitt, Jackson, Harrison, Bennett, and Dittmer ran on their heels. The first nine competitors ran through the first lap within three seconds of each other, while Bennett sat seven seconds back to Dittmer’s ten. Jenkins pushed the pace on the second lap, dropping Harrison, Bennett and Dittmer, and leaving Aussie Jackson trailing to create a new lead group of seven women midway through the second lap of the run.

Groff and Murua also started to fall off late in the second lap, while Densham, Jenkins, Spirig, Norden, and Hewitt forged ahead. Shortly into the third lap on a winding technical portion of the run, a group of four broke away to leave Hewitt. Jenkins looked next to be picked off, as she found trouble staying with the speed.

Groff worked to keep the lead pack in her sight, and overtook Hewitt to move into fifth place. With one lap to go, she was just two seconds down, and quickly joined leaders Densham, Spirig, Jenkins, and Norden on the final lap. Densham stayed at the top, repeatedly attempting to peel herself away. But her every step was answered by the women, especially Groff who had moved into second place. Jenkins, meanwhile, began falling behind.

A persistent game of cat and mouse, the only constant remained Densham at the top. Then on the final straight away, Spirig moved into first and began hammering ahead of Densham. Norden followed suit, and the two sprinted over the finish line to take down the finish line tape at nearly the same time. Spirig was crowned the winner with time of 1:59:48, while Norden, for the second time in her life, was named second in a photo finish.

In the end there was only a toe in it - Credit: Triathlon.org | Delly Carr / ITU

“I did not have a clue, it was only in the last couple of strides that I came close to her and I did kind of think I had silver,” Norden said. “But there is just this little hope and you wait for the screen to come up. I saw I had the silver and I’m pretty pleased with that, put it that way.”

The finish was so close, officials had to review the two finish line cameras to determine the winner. Race referee Bela Varga determined Spirig had won by an estimated 15cm margin when her torso hit the tape first.

“I lost a sprint in Madrid some years ago to Andrea Hewitt by just 0.02 seconds and this was another one, I always just seem to be on the wrong side of these decimals, but hey I got a silver medal and I’m pretty stoked with that,” Norden said.

Densham secured bronze in 1:59.50 to give Australia its fifth triathlon medal in the Olympic history of the sport.

Groff, competing in her first Olympic Games, crossed over in fourth at 2:00.00. Cheered on by a roaring crowd, Jenkins finished in fifth at 2:00.19. Hewitt improved her Olympic showing by two places for a sixth-place finish. Murua finished in seventh for a dramatic improvement from her previous two Olympic, followed by Emma Jackson in eighth. Harrison and Kate McIlroy (NZL) rounded out the top ten in night and tenth, respectively.

Jackson’s top ten finish was a great result on the day with the pace of the eventual top 3 too fast. She had performed on this course before and didn’t disappoint on race day. Jackson stayed at the back of the main pack for most of the bike leg and started the run solidly but couldn’t match the speed of the lead women.

The men’s triathlon competition gets underway Tuesday 7 August at 11:30am local time. Check listing with your national Olympic broadcast company for broadcast times near you. While live timing and streaming are not available, tune in to triathlon.org/live and on Twitter for live text updates, via @ITUonline and @triathlonlive.

 

Pos Athlete Country Time Swim Bike Run
1 Nicola Spirig SUI 1:59:48 0:19:23 1:05:33 0:33:41
2 Lisa Norden SWE 1:59:48 0:19:17 1:05:33 0:33:42
3 Erin Densham AUS 1:59:50 0:19:24 1:05:33 0:33:42
4 Sarah Groff USA 2:00:00 0:19:20 1:05:40 0:33:52
5 Helen Jenkins GBR 2:00:19 0:19:19 1:05:35 0:34:10
6 Andrea Hewitt NZL 2:00:36 0:19:28 1:05:26 0:34:29
7 Ainhoa Murua ESP 2:00:56 0:19:21 1:05:37 0:34:47
8 Emma Jackson AUS 2:01:16 0:19:24 1:05:32 0:35:06
9 Jessica Harrison FRA 2:01:22 0:18:39 1:06:16 0:35:13
10 Kate McIlroy NZL 2:01:28 0:19:31 1:05:26 0:35:14
11 Anne Haug GER 2:01:35 0:19:44 1:06:59 0:33:42
12 Anja Dittmer GER 2:01:38 0:19:24 1:05:27 0:35:32
13 Irina Abysova RUS 2:01:52 0:19:20 1:05:34 0:35:41
14 Mariko Adachi JPN 2:02:04 0:18:25 1:06:29 0:35:50
15 Vendula Frintova CZE 2:02:08 0:19:30 1:05:27 0:35:57
16 Barbara Riveros Diaz CHI 2:02:15 0:19:44 1:07:03 0:34:14
17 Laura Bennett USA 2:02:17 0:18:36 1:06:22 0:36:10
18 Emmie Charayron FRA 2:02:26 0:19:48 1:06:58 0:34:26
19 Gillian Sanders RSA 2:02:28 0:19:29 1:05:31 0:36:17
20 Radka Vodickova CZE 2:02:34 0:19:18 1:05:40 0:36:21
21 Claudia Rivas MEX 2:02:38 0:18:28 1:06:26 0:36:27
22 Kate Roberts RSA 2:02:46 0:19:22 1:07:21 0:34:48
23 Line  Jensen DEN 2:02:47 0:18:21 1:06:34 0:36:37
24 Marina Damlaimcourt ESP 2:02:50 0:19:20 1:05:36 0:36:40
25 Agnieszka Jerzyk POL 2:02:52 0:19:47 1:06:57 0:34:54
26 Vicky Holland GBR 2:02:55 0:19:21 1:07:23 0:34:57
27 Helle Frederiksen DEN 2:03:10 0:19:31 1:07:11 0:35:09
28 Katrien Verstuyft BEL 2:03:38 0:19:43 1:06:59 0:35:40
29 Carole Peon FRA 2:03:58 0:19:30 1:07:11 0:35:59
30 Pamela Oliveira BRA 2:04:02 0:18:27 1:08:16 0:36:00
31 Maria Czesnik POL 2:04:09 0:19:28 1:07:17 0:36:09
32 Svenja Bazlen GER 2:04:11 0:19:28 1:05:29 0:38:01
33 Lucy Hall GBR 2:04:38 0:18:16 1:06:39 0:38:24
34 Juri Ide JPN 2:04:43 0:19:46 1:06:56 0:36:42
35 Nicky Samuels NZL 2:04:48 0:19:46 1:07:00 0:36:50
36 Rachel Klamer NED 2:04:59 0:19:26 1:07:14 0:36:58
37 Mateja Simic SLO 2:05:35 0:19:31 1:07:11 0:37:35
38 Gwen Jorgensen USA 2:06:34 0:19:26 1:11:06 0:34:43
39 Ai Ueda JPN 2:06:35 0:20:47 1:09:42 0:34:48
40 Daniela Ryf SUI 2:06:37 0:19:48 1:08:28 0:36:57
41 Maaike Caelers NED 2:06:53 0:20:49 1:09:41 0:35:03
42 Fabienne St Louis MRI 2:07:37 0:19:50 1:06:54 0:39:37
43 Aileen Morrison IRL 2:08:16 0:19:35 1:10:59 0:36:24
44 Zurine Rodriguez ESP 2:08:44 0:19:48 1:06:56 0:40:41
45 Flora Duffy BER 2:08:54 0:19:28 1:11:07 0:37:07
46 Annamaria Mazzetti ITA 2:09:08 0:19:24 1:11:09 0:37:19
47 Alexandra Razarenova RUS 2:09:11 0:19:47 1:10:36 0:37:26
48 Lisa Perterer AUT 2:09:12 0:20:16 1:10:12 0:37:22
49 Elizabeth Bravo ECU 2:10:00 0:19:49 1:10:44 0:38:12
50 Yi Zhang CHN 2:10:01 0:19:48 1:10:39 0:38:11
51 Zsofia Kovacs HUN 2:10:39 0:19:50 1:10:40 0:38:50
52 Paula Findlay CAN 2:12:09 0:19:51 1:10:42 0:40:16
DNF Emma Moffatt AUS 0:00:00 0:19:22 0:00:00 0:00:00
DNF Kathy Tremblay CAN 0:00:00 0:19:49 0:00:00 0:00:00
DNF Yuliya Yelistratova UKR 0:00:00 0:20:50 0:00:00 0:00:00

 

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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St. Anthony’s Triathlon Announced as 2018 USAT Regional Championship

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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.

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Ironman 70.3 Geelong: Sam Appelton Too Strong and Nina Derron Wins in a Thriller

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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.

Women’s results

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

 

Men’s results

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

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Bill Chaffey Throws Caution to the Wind in Commonwealth Games Countdown

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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.

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USA Paratriathlon National Championships to Return to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, in June

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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.

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Challenge Wanaka: Javier Gomez and Annabel Luxford crowned 2018 champions

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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.

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Gear & Tech

Zwift Set to Revolutionise Indoor Running

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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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