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Previewed: IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland – Asia-Pacific Championship

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A world-class field is, at this very moment, assembling in Auckland, NZ, for the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship, to be held this forthcoming Sunday, January 19th 2014. Big prize money, a regional title and a share in one of the best KPR points offerings on the 70.3 circuit has lured some 30 professional men and 13 professional women onto the start line for battle very early in the international season.

The Men’s Race:

The men’s field, in particular, is absolutely overflowing with talent. With such a strong field, we expect there to be  a big pack heading together off the bike and fireworks on the run. So early in the year, it’s going to be anyone’s race.

As TriZone previously reported, the men’s field will be headlined by none other than five-time world champion and living legend, Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander. Alexander had a disappointing run of form late last season at both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championships due to a back injury. Announcing he is no longer vying for Kona contention and instead renewing his focus on 70.3 racing -where he believes he is most competitive- it will be interesting to see how the champ’s form is, particularly since it is a very long time since we’ve seen the Shire native race so early in the year.

As with Alexander, it is indeed hard to construct an accurate form guide for much of the 30-strong field. Defending champion Christian Kemp of Australia is back and hungry to hold onto the title. Kemp was off most radars in 2013 after struggling with a long run of injuries, but raised eyebrows blitzing the field in Auckland. According to two-time Olympic medalist, Bevan Docherty, Kemp was strong on the bike and ‘toyed’ with them on the run in his way to the victory. It’s certain then, that this year Kemp will have a target firmly placed on his back.

Docherty himself showed us last year his January form was strong across all three disciplines with a second placing at the inaugural event, so he too -as always- will be one to keep an eye on. He then went on to win Ironman New Zealand on debut and set a course record. His first attempts at the two Ironman World Champs last year did not yield the results he would have been hoping for. Docherty will be out to prove something on Sunday.

Fellow Kiwi Cameron Brown will also be looking to be in the mix. After taking out his 10th Port of Tauranga half-Iron in January, Brown looks to be in great form. Brown took six weeks of towards the end of last year, something he hasn’t done for ten years, to fully recharge some aging batteries. This looks to have worked wonders, particularly on the bike as he showed in Tauranga. This field has some incredibly fast runners and could prove too quick on Sunday for Brown, particularly if he’s gapped in the water.

Terrenzo Bozzone was in scintillating form in 2013, making a resounding return from a prolonged injury hiatus. He finished off 2013 with a string of 70.3 podiums including second at the World Championships in Las Vegas and wins in Miami, Mandurah and Shepparton. Bozzone is making his return to Ironman racing in Taupo this March so whether or not the big training load will dim his run speed off the bike is to be seen. If he’s close to the condition he was in in 2013, Bozzone will be hard to beat.

World number 5 Ironman 70.3 professional Tim Reed will be in Auckland to win. The lead bike pack will be nervously looking over their shoulders for the inevitable onslaught by Reed as he powers his way though the field aboard his new Shimano-equipped Felt whip. If he is there off the bike he will back himself to be able to run with the best of them and take the title.

Tim Reed coached Sam Appleton to a maiden 70.3 title in Canberra five weeks ago after a string of podiums at Port 70.3, Nepean and Mandurah. Appleton is a strong, rounded athlete who will swim and ride with the front packs. With a strong run, Appleton will almost certainly be at the pointy end in the second half of the run, chasing another podium.

Young gun James Hodge had a fantastic season 2013, his second year of professional racing, with a number of podiums and wins at Ironman 70.3 Japan and the Metaman half-distance race. The tall Tasmanian rode off the front in Auckland last year in an impressive display of bike strength and he has shown in recent months that he hasn’t lost any of that power. In fact, it is reported he is riding better than ever right now. With improved bike strength, a front-pack swim and the same off-the-front attitude, Hodge is a good chance to improve on his third-placing from 2013.

Former Australian Ironman 70.3 Pro Champion Tim Berkel will be in unknown form this forthcoming weekend. Berkel was recently hit by a vehicle travelling at about 45kph during the inaugural Challenge Forster race. Coach Grant Giles has been working his squad hard in Lennox, so we expect Berkel to be well conditioned coming into the race. A strong all-round athlete, Berkel has show in the past he’s capable of some exceptional runs over the 70.3 distance.

2008 Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno has been transitioning to long-course racing since the London Games where he placed. Racing a mix of ITU and non-drafting events, Frodeno tasted 70.3 success with a second-place at the Ironman 70.3 European Championships in Wiesbaden in 2013. As he continues to adapt his craft to long-course racing, we know we haven’t seen the best Frodeno has to offer on the 70.3 circuit.

Richie Cunningham showed some great form in 2013 taking wins Galveston and St Croix 70.3’s before being hit by a car and breaking his elbow. Cunningham returned to racing with some quick runs netting him podiums at Austin 70.3 and Rev3 Venice Beach.  With a few podiums in Panama – a February 70.3 race – in the last few years, Cunningham has shown he can perform well early in the year, so watch for another quick one from this fast veteran.

There are a number of other dark horse athletes to watch in Auckland. David Mainwaring took a win at Murray Man Half and  second at Challenge Forster in recent months, showing he is in good touch and racing confidently. Matthew Pellow is also in good form, which he showed when ran through James Hodge with a barnstorming effort in Canberra to net second place. The likes of Paul Amey and Dave Dellow can never be discounted either, both bringing experience and speed to the startline.

Full Men’s Startlist:

  • Andrew Yoder (USA)
  • Bevan Docherty (NZL)
  • Brodie Madgwick (NZL)
  • Callum Millward (NZL)
  • Cameron Brown (NZL)
  • Chris Sanson (NZL)
  • Christian Kemp (AUS)
  • Craig Alexander (AUS)
  • Damien Decas (FRA)
  • David Dellow (AUS)
  • David Mainwaring (AUS)
  • Graham O’Grady (NZL)
  • James Hodge (AUS)
  • James Seear (AUS)
  • Jamie Stanley (AUS)
  • Jan Frodeno (GER)
  • John Polson (AUS)
  • Mark Bowstead (NZL)
  • Matt Franklin (NZL)
  • Matthew Pellow (AUS)
  • Michael Poole (NZL)
  • Paul Amey (GBR)
  • Richie Cunningham (AUS)
  • Sam Appleton (AUS)
  • Sean Donnelly (GER)
  • Terenzo Bozzone (NZL)
  • Tim Berkel (AUS)
  • Tim Reed (AUS)
  • Todd Israel (AUS)

The Women’s Race:

At the inaugural race in 2013 Annabel Luxford absolutely dominated the women’s field. She was leading out of the water and put time into the likes of Meredith Kessler and Caroline Steffen on both the bike and the run. Despite some simply outstanding results in 2013, Luxford still considers herself somewhat of a long-distance rookie. We expect 2014 to be an even bigger year for Luxford as she continues to push her boundaries over the 70.3 distance.  Luxford will go into Sunday’s race as a strong favourite over some fierce local competition. After coming 3rd at the 70.3 World Champs Luxford backed up to beat the 70.3 champion a week later over the same distance.

Catriona Morrison had a very consistent 2013 which included a number of podiums and wins over the 70.3 distance, including the tough, humid St Croix 70.3. Morrison is coming off a win at the Port of Tauranga Half where she ran a sharp 1:21 half-marathon. We expect Morrison to race strongly and contend for a podium spot.

Kiwi Sam Warriner is an experienced racer who doesn’t appear to have slowed one iota since giving birth to her first child. She took out the Cairns Airport Ironman 70.3 Cairns in 2013,  and dabbled in some ITU racing at the evergreen age of 42. Warriner will need a strong bike performance to challenge for the win, but we expect her to be up at the pointy end of the race all day.

Kiwi legend Jo Lawn is another athlete with the potential to challenge for a podium position. Lawn is again preparing for Ironman New Zealand in March with the hopes of securing an eighth title.  With another consistent year behind her, Lawn will, like compatriot Warriner, look to the bike for a strong result.

Australian Rebecca Hoschke has had a good domestic season so far with a second at the Murray Man half, and a win at Challenge Forster. The reigning Ironman Australia champion will have been working hard with coach Grant Giles to prepare for the this race and hopefully to improve on her eighth place here in 2013. After leaving her full time job late in 2013 Hoschke has been putting more time in to her training and we look forward to seeing the results of this on Sunday.

Australian-based Japanese ITU veteran Kiyomi Niwata will be near the front out of the drink but will need to work hard to stay within touch the likes of Luxford, Morrison, and Warriner on the bike if she is to challenge for a podium. With a few second-placings in 2013 over the 70.3, the swim-run specialist will be looking to start 2014 with a strong result at the Asia-Pacific Champs.

Coming off a podium finish in at Canberra 70.3, Brisbane native Kym Jaenke will join the likes of Michelle Bremer and Michelle Wu as darkhorses who have the potential to nail a big performance on Sunday.

  • Annabel Luxford (AUS)
  • Catriona Morrison (SCO)
  • Hannah Lawrence  (NZL)
  • Jo Lawn (NZL)
  • Kiyomi Niwata (JPN)
  • Kristy Hallett (AUS)
  • Kym Jaenke (AUS)
  • Melanie Burke (NZL)
  • Michelle Bremer (NZL)
  • Michelle Wu (AUS)
  • Rebecca Hoschke (AUS)
  • Sabrina Mohn (SUI)
  • Sam Warriner  (NZL).

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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USA Triathlon Announces 2018 Splash & Dash Youth Aquathlon Series Calendar

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USA Triathlon today announced that its Splash & Dash Youth Aquathlon Series is set to return for the seventh consecutive year, with more than 55 swim-run events planned in cities across the United States this season.

The series, launched in 2012 with 30 events, is designed to introduce youth athletes between the ages of 7 and 15 to the multisport lifestyle through the fast-growing discipline of aquathlon. With a focus on participation and fun, rather than competition, many of the events are not timed.

At all Splash & Dash events, participants ages 7-10 will complete a 100-meter pool swim and a 1-kilometre run, while athletes ages 11-15 will complete a 200m pool swim and a 2k run. All participants receive a t-shirt, custom finisher’s medal and giveaways from the Boy Scouts of America and the USA Swimming Foundation, both partners of the series.

The 2018 season kicks off in mid-March and runs through October, with events hosted in each of USA Triathlon’s six Regions. USA Triathlon partnered with race directors, community centres, coaches, clubs, and parks and recreation departments to solidify the slate of more than 55 events, a record high for the series. USA Triathlon staff will also host the annual Colorado Springs, Colorado, event, which is presented by SafeSplash Swim School, on Aug. 19.

“With the seventh iteration of the USA Triathlon Splash & Dash Youth Aquathlon Series, we will introduce more kids than ever to multisport in a single season,” said Brian D’Amico, USA Triathlon Director of Events. “Increasing youth participation is a major focus not only for USA Triathlon but for the industry as a whole through the recently-launched Time to Tri initiative. We look forward to working with each of the hosts on this year’s Splash & Dash calendar to make the 2018 series the most successful yet.”

The Splash & Dash series saw record participation in 2017, with 2,250 youth athletes competing in 50 events nationwide.

Visit usatriathlon.org/splashanddash for the latest calendar and complete information on the series. The series calendar and locations are subject to change.

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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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