Many people who have been in the sport for years told me that Ironman New Zealand was one of the best Ironman races in the world. Whilst I have only spectated and reported on Ironman races in Australia and Kona this was the best one I have been to for a few reasons.
One is that I was racing my first Ironman. This could have made me slightly biased.
But if I step away from this fact and look at what makes an Ironman so great it still stacks up. The swim was in a lake that looks like an ocean the first time you see it. It is almost as big as Singapore in area (616 sq km compared to Singapore’s 716 sq km) and on race day in 2014 it was as smooth as a ‘lake’. The next great thing is that the water is crystal clear and you can even have a few mouthfuls while swimming to keep hydrated. And the crowds. They are everywhere. More supporters than I have seen at any Ironman before. On the bike course and run course they were everywhere. They never stopped cheering all day. There was nowhere in the race where you felt you were on your own. I know there are a couple of big races in Europe that attract massive crowds but I am talking about races in our region.
With my minimal approach to training the instructions from my coaches Spot Anderson and Deb Hazeldon of Bondi Fit was to take the entire race easy and make sure my heart rate was low. Through Trizone I have come in to touch with so many people who have let training for Ironman take over their lives. I used to look at the training that people were doing and could see that many age groupers were doing similar hours to some of the top pros. I wanted to enjoy the whole Ironman journey.
I have been lucky enough to be able to spend some time with Pete Jacobs on many occasions over the years either as Trizone or as the person that has rebuilt his website a couple of times or even as his ride back from Forster once. The one thing I have always heard from Pete, as many of you have, is to train to feel and make sure you are recovering and resting well. So with this in mind my plan was to have a life while training for my first Ironman. I was not chasing a Kona spot or a PB so there was no pressure. Of course there were plenty of people telling me I was going to do this time and that time. All much faster than what I had planned.
To put it simply I did one 2km open water swim a week in Wollongong Harbour with Alex Price’s AP10 squad. I went to Sydney once a week for the three weeks leading up to Ironman New Zealand to do a pool swim squad with Bondi Fit just to make sure I could do 4kms and as much as it pained Spot to acknowledge it I passed the test. He never said so but there was a faint smile as I dropped Reidy in the 20 or so 100s we did in one session. Sorry Reidy, but it makes my story sound better. I’ll leave the 50s swim off story for another day.
My bike training consisted of one long ride per week with the maximum distance being 156kms. I did my first ride over 100kms on Nov 24 and then didn’t do another ride over 100kms until Dec 26. I did a couple ofÂ 80-90km rides each week during December. My first proper long ride of around 140kms was on Jan 1st just 8 weeks before IMNZ. I then did one long ride a week during January. I was working 7 days a week in my new shop so going for long rides was proving difficult. Luckily my main employee David Mainwaring offered to open on Wednesdays and hold the fort which took the pressure off me having to open the shop and I managed to get a 140-150km ride in each week.
My run training started on January 6 with a very, very slow 10km run after having two months out with an achilles injury. In total I did 5 long runs of 17-23kms. I also did another 3 10km runs and a final 13km run with Spot and Deb 12 days before IMNZ.
I did do one serious day of training the Sunday after I did Challenge Melbourne with good mate Josh Henry in Nowra. This consisted of a 2:15 bike, 30min run, 1:00 bike, 30min run, 1:00 bike and a final 30min run. It was a tough and hot day with the temperature in the late 30s. All the running was done at a very slow pace as my Achilles was still giving me grief.
A fairly minimal training program to say the least but that was the plan. I never trained the day after a big session. The other thing I did well was sleep. I made sure I was getting 7-8 hours a night. I have an awesome memory foam mattresses from Ergoflex. These mattresses are amazing. They are hard to describe except to say that they are like one of those dream beds in a nice hotel that you wish you could take home. They are not overly expensive and you can buy them direct from Ergoflex for around the $900 mark depending on size.
On to IMNZ. I started the swim to the extreme left where there were mainly the people who were more intent on keeping away from the mayhem that goes on in a mass swim start. This worked perfectly. I had clear water for about 1km until I slowly moved in to the swim line. At the half way point I stopped and took a gel which I had slipped in to the back of my wetsuit. This was the other aspect of the day that I was not going to get wrong. Nutrition. Darryll Griffiths from Shotz Nutrition had given me a good plan and I knew from my race in Melbourne at the beginning or February that it should work.
With about 500m to go in the swim I had clear water and was just cruising along. At this point someone started to tap on my feet and then on the back of my legs. I don’t mind people tapping on my feet but when they are almost on top of your legs it gets a bit annoying. So I stopped for a second to let them swim past. Big mistake. The reason I had clear water was that I had a line of about 20 people sitting on me. Then I spent the last 500m in a swim brawl with everyone trying to swim within a 3sqm area.
The run to transition was more like a hike but everyone had to do it so what did it matter! The crowds that lined the run to transition made it seem a lot easier. This was to be a pattern for the day. The crowds I mean. No matter where you were on the course the were crowds of supporters cheering you on. Keeping with my low heart rate strategy I mostly walked to transition and just let everyone else pass me as I enjoyed the moment.
T1 was my first experience of an Ironman change tent. I swum in togs, budgie smugglers, speedos, whatever you want to call them under my wetsuit. I had never ridden 180kms before so I wanted to make sure that I did not come off the bike with rashes that were going to bother me on the run. So with this in mind I wanted to ride in my cycling gear that I had always used on my long training rides (which maxed out at 156km). My T1 took forever and finally after 9mins I was out on to the bike course. On the bike I wanted to keep my heart rate as close to 140bpm as possible for the first 10kms. I am sure I was passed by half the field in those first 10kms as I gently cycled away from Taupo. I chatted for a bit with a few competitors and rode with Kristy from HPT for a bit at the start. Kristy had a great race by the looks of it.
I was told by many that the bike course in New Zealand was tough. A bit of undulation, a couple of decent hills and apparently the road surface was rough. I found the hills, a bit of head wind but never found the legendary rough road surface. It was no where near as bad as the straights at Port Macquarie and the road between Nowra and Braidwood on the South Coast of New South Wales that I did all my training on was rougher. I was happy with what I found in Taupo.
My coach Deb caught me at about 8kms so I decided that if I rode with her for the bike that would give me the pace that I was looking for. It was great to be able to ride with someone you knew in another country. Although, we are both Kiwis so it really wasn’t another country. We ended up in a pace line that stayed together for around 135kms until the final turnaround. I still had plently of energy to burn so I decided to try and put some time in to Deb as I knew at the pace I was planning on running she was going to kick by butt on the run. Most of the guys that had been riding with us had been pushing the limit so they slowly dropped off as the pace picked up in to a head wind and uphill on the way home.
I passed 156km and then was riding in to uncharted territory. I wondered what it would be like when I finished the 180kms. I felt great though and my heart rate was staying between 145 and 160bpm which is very low for me. Over shorter distances I would normally be in the 170-180 vicinity. I ended up leaving a couple of gels out as I just did not feel like I needed them all.
Right throughout the bike course there were crowds of people at every intersection in the countryside and at the far turnaround. There were campervans , cars and people that looked like veterans supporters. It was like no Ironman I had been to in Australia. It is something you have to experience to see what I mean.
I came in to T2 and my legs felt fine. The first few steps were a bit wobbly but by the time I had grabbed my bag I was good to go. In the tent I changed in to my Skinfit two piece trisuit. I went for this because the pants are unbelievable to run in. They have a decent pocket at the back and are silky smooth. I have never had any rubbing in them. The Skinfit top also has a couple of great pockets. I put my shoes and new socks on, then realised I had forgotten to put my vaseline on. So off they came. I was in no rush so it didn’t bother me. I grabbed all my stuff. I took a full cap instead of a peak so I could put ice in it to keep my temp down on the run. This is something I do on all hot long runs and find it helps considerably. Alex Price from AP10 wrote a great piece on keeping your body cool in hotter races. Read it here. I follow it now and what a difference!
One more ‘stop’ before I left the transition then as I turned left out of the tent I discovered the buffet at the aid station in the bike area. There were chocolate chip cookies, chippies, pretzels, lollies, coke all laid out on these tables. I suppose IMNZ was celebrating its 30th birthday so why not put on a birthday spread. After taking advantage of this bounty I headed out on to the run. I ran at 5:50 for the first couple of kms until I felt comfortable then settled in to a 5:30 run pace that I planned to do for the marathon. The only flaw to this plan was that my other strategy was to run very slow with small steps up each hill so I wouldn’t overload my achilles and possibly blow it up. The flaw in this plan was that there were numerous hills on each of the three 14km laps. This took some of the wind out of my rhythm. I also bumped in to a couple of people I hadn’t seen for a while. Unfortunately they were both walking so I felt obliged to stop and have a catch up. I was in no rush so why not.
The crowds on the run course were unbelievable. The Kiwis and in particular the people of Taupo certainly knew how to throw a party and make the event as memorable as possible for the athletes.
I saw the 30km sign come up and felt great but wondered if I was going to hit some mysterious wall. I didn’t and just kept turning my legs over with small steps but a higher cadence. At no time in the run did I hit the wall. In hind sight I wouldn’t have taken the nutrition belt with four bottles. I just wasn’t burning enough fuel to really need it. The on course electrolyte probably would have been sufficient.
Knowing that there were my favourite New Zealand chocloate chip cookies at each aid station I made sure I grabbed one each time. Not sure Mr Giffiths would approve but I was doing my first Ironman and having a ball. Mr Giffins would have been happy.
In the final two kms on the run I happened upon Gordon Bell, one half or the brains trust behind the Nepean Triathlon. We chatted for a bit and got Gordon running again as he tried to get rid of the cramps that he was struggling with. He then started to surge on me with a km to go. What was he thinking? Then cramps took over again and we finished our own races.
It was great to have so much support from friends and family during the race especially on the run. I had my family from Australia and New Zealand there. I think they were more excited about the whole thing than I was.
I pulled up well the next day with no stiffness in my legs and was walking fine. That was until I got stung by a bee under the foot which then proceeded to swell up and I could hardly walk.
For the record I swum 1:06, T1 9min, bike 5:37, T2 8min then a 4:17 run. As I said it was a cruisy day with the plan to take away a wonderful memory.
Over the next week I did the Illawarra Triathlon Clubs aquathon on the Wednesday night, the Kembla Joggers Cross Country on the Saturday (which my business sponsors) and the Olympic distance triathlon in Wollongong on the Sunday. The sole aim of this race was to beat my coach. Coach Deb did the Wollongong triathlon as did Tony Golden who was also in New Zealand racing the Ironman. Time for us all to take a chill pill I think.
Anyway nothing is going to happen over the next couple of weeks then it will be a focus on Port Stephens Olympic distance in May to battle it out again.
A huge thanks to Ironman New Zealand for giving me the opportunity to experience my first ever Ironman on home soil.
Mizuno for some great running shoes. Their new range is one of the biggest sellers in my shop now. Because we let all of our clients test run before they buy the Mizuno’s are selling themselves.
I love training with Bondi Fit when I can. Coaches Spot Anderson and Deb Hazeldon have been great to work with. Not sure they would say the same the about me. I am not sure I am an ideal athlete to coach. But they give it a good crack.
I still love my Cell Bike TT. I have had 6 bikes from Cell now and never had a problem. Their latest top end road bike is pretty damn good and getting some good reviews. The engine on the bike is the biggest thing.
I firmly believe that my Huub Archimedes wetsuit is the main reason why I swim better than I should based on my training. I have been swimming in them for a couple of years now and I always come away with a better time in races than I really should. I think that annoys Spot a bit.
Finally Shotz Nutrition is another reason why I come through my races in much better shape than I really should. I competed in Melbourne at the start of Feb and off two long runs, cruised the race. I firmly believe that my nutrition plan, which is very simple, sees me come out better than expected.
Until next year when I will attempt to go faster…
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.
Copeland overcomes Devonport curse as Jeffcoat defends her crown
Kingscliff young gun Brandon Copeland has broken his Devonport curse, producing a winning kick to take out today’s OTU Oceania Sprint Triathlon Championship.
The 21-year-old has overcome a flat tyre and illness in his previous starts to continue what has been a flying start to the season.
Copeland, who spent part of his pre-season in the AIS “altitude house” under coach Dan Atkins, spent much of the race alongside Victoria’s defending champion Marcel Walkington until the final 400 metres.
“I didn’t have the best of swims but managed to get on to the lead group on the bike and stayed there and made sure I covered any attacks,” said Copeland.
“And on the run, it was just Marcel and myself until just before the final turn where I put in a massive surge and was lucky enough to get him in the end.
“It is nice to finally come to Devonport and have a good race – I have had some bad luck in the past with a flat type and illness last year – good to finally overcome the curse.”
Germany’s Maximillian Schwetz won a sprint finish from Australian Olympian Ryan Bailie, who was in the mix until the final 2.5km of the run, in his first individual race of the season.
In the women’s race, Sydney’s former champion surf lifesaver Emma Jeffcoat produced an outstanding performance to successfully defend her Devonport title in his first year in the Elite division, defeating experienced pair and Wollongong training partners Natalie Van Coevorden and Commonwealth Games representative Charlotte McShane.
“I’m so happy to repeat what I did last year down here in Devonport which is one of my favourite races,” Jeffcoat said.
“It has always treated me so well . . . it’s the kind of course that plays to my strengths and why wouldn’t I take advantage of that, I came from a surf lifesaving background.”
Exiting the swim within range of each other Jeffcoat made the early call to Van Coevorden to ‘go’.
“I knew Nat would probably be up there in the swim with me so as soon as we came out of the water I said to her “let’s go, we’re not waiting around” and it worked well for both of us,” said Jeffcoat.
The win was a confidence boost that her swim and bike are still strong while the focus has been improving her run and the results today proof that the work with coach Mick Delmotte is coming along nicely.
Jeffcoat’s next assignment will be the Australian Sprint Championships at Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial next weekend followed by the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup (10 March), Mixed Triathlon Relay Invitation (17 March) and New Plymouth World Cup. She will then get a block of training in before going over to Europe on the WTS circuit.
1. Emma Jeffcoat (AUS) 1:01:58
2. Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS) 1:02:20
3. Charlotte McShane (AUS) 1:03:54
1. Brandon Copeland (AUS) 56:52
2. Marcel Walkington (AUS) 57:13
3. Maximilian Schwetz (GER) 57:21
1. Annabel White (AUS) 1:05:11
2. Zoe Leahy (AUS) 1:06:05
3. Amber Pate (AUS) 1:08:10
1. Brandon Copeland (AUS) 56:52
2. Hayden Wilde (NZ) 57:23
3. Trent Dodds (NZ) 57:33
The Road to Super League Triathlon Championship Series 2018/19 Begins Now
The road to the Super League Triathlon (SLT) Championship Series 2018/19 kicks off this June with a series of qualifier races in Poznan, Poland, and Penticton, Canada. Pro triathletes have the chance to fight for a spot in the global Championship Series, where the top 50 male and female triathletes will race, and all will find out who is the most dynamic and versatile triathlete of all.
There will be a total of three (3) qualifier events. A total of six (6) ‘Golden Tickets’ granting direct access into the League’s Championship Series is set to be awarded in the City of Poznan, Poland, during an action-filled weekend of racing between 29 June and 1 July 2018. Another four (4) male and four (4) female triathletes will gain entry into the Championship Series through Penticton, Canada from 17-19 August 2018. Registration for entry into these qualifier events are now open. The third destination will be announced in the coming months.
The road to the SLT Championship Series offers a total of 20 Golden Tickets that are up for grabs. Each Golden Ticket will grant one triathlete entry into the Championship Series, and will be clinched by the overall top-ranking performers in the qualifier events. Pros from all over the world will compete in the qualifier races with clear access and an equal chance to be crowned the next SLT Champion.
Said Chris McCormack, Executive Director and co-founder,
“Part of SLT’s DNA is giving every athlete a clear shot at the league, and providing a direct path to becoming the next SLT Champion. As the sport’s leading professional closed league, all our athletes have the opportunity to gain entry into the world’s richest, most televised triathlon series. I will be in Poznan and Penticton and look forward to welcoming the next generation of sport stars to SLT.”
In addition, mass participation races are available for registration in both cities, with a range of age-group categories to choose from, and perfect for any aspiring athlete.
Said co-founder of Super League Triathlon Leonid Boguslavsky, “As an entrepreneur and passionate triathlete, my vision is to invest in innovation and the young talents of the future – giving them the best platform to grow and excel. ‘The Road to Super League Triathlon’ aligns with my beliefs and it will provide opportunities for aspiring triathletes to pursue their dreams.”
Super League Triathlon is a spectator-friendly race series which gives triathlon fans an action-packed and up-close experience. Fans can follow the best triathletes in the world from start to finish, as the series travels to some of the world’s most spectacular racing destinations throughout the eight-month race season. SLT races are focused on attracting a new generation of audiences with the aim of fostering and inspiring future champions and promoting a healthy lifestyle for the wider community.
“SLT is here to engage and inspire a wider audience to be a part of this fantastic sport. With ‘The Road to Super League Triathlon’ we tell the stories of emerging champions leveraging our unprecedented commitment to entertainment and innovation, bringing commercial and global relevance to the next generation of sport stars and paving the way for future heroes,” says SLT’s CEO and co-founder, Michael D’hulst.
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