Peter Kerr celebrating a very close win - Credit: Mike Heydon
Australia took out the major honours at the 2013 ITU Oceania Triathlon championships in Wellington today with Peter Kerr and Felicity Abram winning the elite categories in cool, overcast and blustery conditions.
First away were the women with Maddison Allen leading a large group out of the 1500m swim, only to crash on making her exit from transition. The Australian picked herself up and was ready to continue; only to discover that the derailleur on her bike had smashed, leaving her distraught on the sidelines as the field rushed by.
Kate McIlroy (Wellington) was the only one to mix it up on the bike, establishing a lead of close to one minute midway through the 40km, with no one prepared to go with the world number 10 however, she was forced to sit up and wait for the chase group to catch. The lead group then settled in to their work, with all the pre-race favourites amongst it, including former world champion Sam Warriner, making her first appearance at elite level since the birth of her first child.
Once on to the run however it was Abram who had the greater desire, pulling clear of McIlroy and Grace Musgrove (Aus) early and maintaining that advantage through to the finish line.
â€œI guess I quietly put some pressure on myself today, I was racing for my Uncle (Peter Abram) who is back home very sick with lung and brain cancer and I said I would race and do my best to win for him today, I said I would do anything to spur him on back home. I wasn’t planning on racing this early in the season though so to blow the cobwebs out I am quite satisfied.â€
Abram was impressed with the organisational skills of one of the more experienced athletes in the field.
â€œSam (Warriner) was playing â€˜Aunty Sam’ on the bike which was good, keeping everyone in line and taking their turn. It is hard in a season opening race to go hard so I ran my own race and built into it. It is great to be Oceania Champion and to start the season so well.â€
McIlroy reflected on a mixed day for her.
â€œIt was a physical swim, I almost had my wetsuit pulled own and had to stop to sort it out, but ended up with a good swim. I tried to go on the bike, it was a shame no one went with me so I sat up and rode with the group which was a bit frustrating but I gave it a shot. On the run I paid a price for going out on the bike as I did but I tweaked my ankle a few weeks ago and had missed some running in training so to be honest I am happy with my race today.
â€œIt is nice to be first Kiwi and pick up my first national triathlon title over the standard distance, so yeah, it is pretty special.â€
In the men’s race disaster struck favourite Ryan Sissons (Auckland) as he exited the water from his warm up as the world number 19 stood on glass in the shallow water and cut his foot, removing him immediately from the action as he headed for stitches and at least a week off running, not what the doctor ordered a month out from the opening ITU World Triathlon Series race in Auckland.
That opened the race for the others and it was Kerr who took the opportunity, running away from Aaron Royle (AUS) and Tony Dodds (Wanaka) in the final kilometre to pick up an Oceania title.
â€œI love it, when you win it is satisfying, I am going into races with a different attitude to be at the pointy end and then that isn’t good enough, I want to be top five and take out races which isn’t as easy as it sounds but at the moment I am in great form and proud to be Oceania Champion,â€ said Kerr.
â€œThere was cat and mouse on the run, the pace was up and down, I knew it would be a tough ten kilometres today and it was a case of reading those attacks and surges and when I went at the end I had to stay focused, listen to the crowd to gauge where they were behind me and not look back. It paid off knowing I had a couple of attacks left in me at the end, I am thrilled, really happy.â€
Dodds was not sure whether to be happy with a national title, knowing that he was behind a couple of Aussies.
â€œThe swim I felt alright but I am just not quite strong enough in all three disciplines and we will work on that before Auckland next month. I am pleased with my mental strength today to bridge back up to the leaders when they dropped me on the run. I’m stoked to become national champion for sure, there is stuff to work on obviously but today wasn’t too bad.
â€œI felt for Ryan today not starting today, he is great form and I know he will show that in Auckland. We will train together at Snow Farm now before Auckland, we saw today what happens when a couple of Aussies work together, it is now up to Ryan and I to do the same, work hard and bring some of that to Auckland.â€
ITU Oceania Triathlon Championships
Triathlon NZ National Standard Distance Championships