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Emma Moffatt and Ryan Bailie climb into WTS top ten in Auckland

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Two-time Olympian Emma Moffatt and young West Australian Ryan Bailie who has his sights on his first Olympic Games have produced encouraging top ten finishes in today’s World Triathlon Series race in Auckland.

The torturous Auckland layout is described by many experts as having a bike climb as close to the Rio Olympic course as there is on WTS circuit.

Moffatt called on all her grit determination and big race experience to finish sixth over her first major international Olympic Distance race since last year’s Commonwealth Games while Glasgow hero Bailie produced a sterling performance to again finish fifth in the men’s race.

It was a welcome return for the 30-year-old Moffatt who spent the last fortnight soul searching after her disappointing WTS season opener in Abu Dhabi.

She showed why she has been one of Australia’s best over the past two Olympic campaigns in a race that will give her just the kick-along she needs in a bid for a third Olympic campaign.

A noted swimmer, Moffatt actually missed the font pack after the 1.5km swim and had to work with Sweden’s Olympic silver medallist Lisa Norden, who led chase pack charge into the lead group.

There were glimpses of the Moffatt of old who ensured she still had some legs left for the 10km run.
Charlotte McShane, seventh in Abu Dhabi, came from a long way back – at one stage 29th – to put together the fifth fastest 10km run split of the day (35:17) – to finish an encouraging 13th in what was one of her best ever performances over the demanding Olympic distance.

The other Australians were Ashleigh Gentle (22nd) and Natalie Van Coevorden (25th) in a race that was again dominated by defending US world champion Gwen Jorgensen who ran away from the field to win the gold medal from team mate Katie Zaferes and Andrea Hewitt (NZL).

WA’s Wollongong-based Bailie, Australia’s highest ranked male at the end of 2014, showed the experience and fight he has gained in recent years when he rode and climbed his way into a lead pack of 15 for the 40km bike leg alongside eventual winner and Olympic bronze medallist and today’s second placed Spaniard Javier Gomez, the London silver medallist.

And while not even four-time world champion Gomez was a match for Brownlee, who broke his Auckland hoodoo, it certainly showed Bailie is well and truly on track for another big year as the Australians set their sights on Olympic qualification.

Australia’s other finishes saw:

A solid 18th from Dan Wilson, who worked hard in the chase pack on the bike;

Brendan Sexton clock the fourth fastest run leg of the day (30.57) for his 23rd;

While 20-year-old WTS debutant Jake Birtwhistle was far from disgraced with his first up 38th.

Commonwealth Games representative and 2012 Under 23 world champion Aaron Royle was forced out of the race on the bike, suffering a reoccurrence of the flu virus he picked up post the opening round in Abu Dhabi and Cam Good’s day was over when he landed in a barrier losing his bike chain.

Australia’s National Performance Director Bernard Savage said he was encouraged by Moffatt’s return to form after her disappointing season opener in Abu Dhabi, praised Bailie’s tactical nous and also McShane’s fast finishing efforts as well.

“Emma will be happy with that performance I’m sure,” said Savage.

“She didn’t produce the kind of swim she would have wanted but worked hard on the bike to get herself into a lead group that certainly had the kind of attrition rate that you can expect on this course.

“It’s a very tough bike course and the group went from around 21 to 12 and Emma hung on well over a 40km bike leg they say is the closest thing we will see to Rio.

“So for all the reasons it’s a credit for Emma to do the work required to get her a top 10 finish and valuable Olympic qualification points.

“It’s also encouraging with the Gold Coast race coming up – it will give her a lot of confidence.

“McShane also dug deep after a swim that left her well off the pace but she kept her cool and put together a good run leg which put her in the top 15 and following her 7th in Abu Dhabi it’s another good result and it’s the kind of consistency you need at this level of racing.

“Bailie’s effort also to get across to the front bike group from where he was scored 11/10 for mine and the way he reacted quickly, showed quality and commitment and a real tactical nous.

“He then ran really well and to finish up fifth like he did last year was a good result for Ryan and it sets him up for a good crack at the Gold Coast and the rest of the Series.”

The Gold Coast will host round three of the Series in conjunction with the Luke Harrop Memorial on April 11 and 12.

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A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.

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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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