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All-star elite field set for XTERRA Pan Am Champs in Utah

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Forty-five elites are scheduled to compete at the XTERRA Pan America / USA Championship race in Ogden, Utah next Saturday, September 16.

As the culmination of a series of off-road triathlons spanning South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, and the U.S., the contenders are coming from near and far, and with $80,000 in prize money at stake and cameramen capturing all the action for a nationally broadcast one-hour TV show, the stage is set for XTERRA’s best to show what they can do.

The challenge starts with a one-mile swim in Pineview Reservoir (4,900-feet elevation), follows with an 18-mile mountain bike leg that climbs more than 3,000-feet to the top of Sardine Peak (7,300-feet elevation) and culminates with a 7-mile trail run featuring another 700-feet of climbing on trails around Snowbasin Resort in the Wasatch Range. The course, they say, is best-suited for mountain goats.

In the last few weeks we’ve caught up with some of the race favorites including reigning champs Josiah Middaugh and Suzie Snyder from the U.S., and top contenders Bradley Weiss from South Africa (who just won the XTERRA European Championship) and Kara LaPoint from Colorado, but the talent goes well beyond those four.

In the men’s race Mexico is well represented with Mauricio Mendez, the current XTERRA World Champion. He was second to Middaugh at XTERRA Beaver Creek this year and 3rd at this race in 2014 as an 18-year-old.

XTERRA Argentina Champion Gonzalo Tellechea, who is currently ranked 5th in the Pan Am Pro Series, is on the start list along with his countrymen Andres Darricau and Mario de Elias. Representing Brazil is Felipe Moletta, the reigning and three-time XTERRA Brazil Champion.

Jean-Philippe Thibodeau, who finished in the top four at four races this year and is ranked fourth in the Pan Am Pro Series, will carry the torch for Canada while rookie elite Cedric Wane (ranked 6th) represents Tahiti.

The Kiwi’s are in full force with Kieran McPherson, the XTERRA Thailand Champion who is ranked 3rd in the Series, Kyle Smith, who was 3rd at XTERRA New Zealand and the ITU Cross Tri World Champs in Canada a few weeks ago, and Alex Roberts.

The Aussies are led by Ben Allen, who finished 3rd at XTERRA Worlds twice in the last three years.

Markus Benesch and Dominik Wychera from Austria and Julien Buffe from France add a European twist to the mix. For Buffe, ranked 8th on the tour, this will be the fifth race on the Pan Am Pro Series for he and his girlfriend Morgane Riou.

“Even if it was a tiring schedule with many travels between Europe and America, we don’t regret anything as we have discovered lovely places and beautiful races,” he said. “I’m very happy with my season which is my second as a pro on the XTERRA World Tour. I’ve reached the Top 10 at each race I’ve done on the Pan Am Tour and it is an unexpected result for me before the start of the season. My best race was the last one at XTERRA Dominican Republic with my first podium on the Tour (5th) and the first victory for Morgane. My goal in Utah is to enjoy the race and try to stay in the Top 10 of the Tour.”

And then there are the Americans, who will also be racing for the USA Championship title.

Branden Rakita leads the charge as the Pan Am Pro Series points leader, having finished in the top seven at nine events this season. Sam Long could be the dark horse, he finished 3rd at XTERRA Beaver Creek behind only Middaugh and Mendez this summer.

Chris Ganter says he’s looking forward to another shot at this course, where he did his first XTERRA as a pro back in 2010.

“Every year I say ‘this course doesn’t suit me, etc, etc.’ but then I decide to come back with a new strategy. This year I’ve trained nordic skiing at high altitude, and it seems to have helped with my cycling performances above 5,000-feet, so we’ll see! Luckily, I’m coming into form at the right time after injuring my ribs five-weeks back. It still hurts when I swim, so my strategy will be to get through the swim and really give’r on the bike and run! JP Thibodeau and I are road-tripping down to Ogden from Boise in the RV, which should be a rad adventure in-and-of itself!”

Alex Modestou, after a busy legislative season with his “real job” as an education data and policy analyst, is hoping to find the form he had in 2014 when he finished fourth at this race. Others in the mix include Walter Schafer, Michael Nunez, Ian King, Brad Zoller, newbie local pro Andrew Fast in his first-ever XTERRA, and the senior statesman of the bunch, 42yo Brian Smith.

“I am grateful that I can continue this amazing and challenging sport into my 40s at the highest level, and definitely pleased with how the season has unfolded,” said Smith, who finished fourth at both XTERRA Oak Mountain and Beaver Creek and 7th in Mexico. “The championship event at Snowbasin always brings out my best efforts. I love the long, sustained climbing on the bike and challenging run that follows. Both courses really suit my strengths and the lower altitude allows me to dig a little deeper into the pain cave. I want to be top 5 with the hopes of a top 3 if everything is perfect.”

Pam Am Tour Rank – Name – Age, Hometown

1 – Branden Rakita – 36, Colorado Springs, Colorado
2 – Josiah Middaugh – 39, Eagle-Vail, Colorado
3 – Kieran McPherson – 25, Matamata, New Zealand
4 – Jean-Philippe Thibodeau – 26, Quebec, Canada
5 – Gonzolo Tellechea – 33, San Juan, Argentina
6 – Cédric Wane – 31, Papeete, Tahiti
7 – Brian Smith – 42, Gunnison, Colorado
8 – Julien Buffe – 30, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France
12 – Felipe Moletta – 31, Parana, Brazil
14 – Chris Ganter – 38, Boise, Idaho
15 – Ian King – 27, Fort Collins, Colorado
18 – Michael Nunez – 36, Salt Lake City, Utah
19 – Mauricio Mendez – 21, Mexico City, Mexico
20 – Sam Long – 21, Boulder, Colorado
29 – Mario de Elias – 33, Buenos Aires, Argentina
31 – Andres Darricau – 41, Buenos Aires, Argentina
NR – Ben Allen – 32, Wollongong, Australia
NR – Markus Benesch – 43, Vienna, Austria
NR – Andrew Fast – 36, Salt Lake City, Utah
NR – Alex Modestou – 30, Durham, North Carolina
NR – Alex Roberts – 27, Taupo, New Zealand
NR – Walter Schafer – 26, Centennial, Colorado
NR – Kyle Smith – 20, Waikato, New Zealand
NR – Bradley Weiss – 28, Stellenbosch, South Africa
NR – Dominik Wychera – 24, Kritzendorf, Austria
NR – Brad Zoller – 40, Avon, Colorado

WOMEN’S ELITE RACE

The women’s elite field is just as diverse as the men’s with racers representing France, Brazil, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, the U.S., and the U.K.

Two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson finished third on this course the first time she raced it in 2009. She was second in 2010 and 2011, and she won it in 2012 and 2013. This year, after a season spent touring the nation promoting her book The Brave Athlete, she says she’s ready to get back in the dirt.

“I’ll hit it hard from the start and never look back, I wanna win this,” she exclaimed. “I’m feeling good and just love the beauty of the course with the fall leaves and gruesome climbs. XTERRA is my home, its gritty, muddy, primal, and family grown!”

To win it she’ll have to get past Snyder, who won five races this year included a head-to-head against Paterson at Oak Mountain. In their next head-to-head, however, Paterson won big at Beaver Creek, so this will be the rubber match.

Other hopefuls include Morgane Riou from France, who did 11 XTERRA races this season including a stretch of eight in eight weeks this summer. In her last race, she won XTERRA Dominican Republic, and is ranked 3rd in the Pan Am Pro Series.

“I’m very satisfied with my season, it has been my best one since I began to race as a pro in 2014,” she said. “I recovered well after the big summer series of 8 races in 8 weeks and I’m now ready to fight again. XTERRA Ogden will be my last off-road triathlon of the year since I don’t have any more rest days to go to Maui. So, I would like to have a good race from the beginning to the end and enjoy each moment of the race.”

Lizzie Orchard from New Zealand was the runner-up here a year ago, finishing just three minutes behind Snyder and is fresh-off a third-place showing at the European Championship in Denmark.

“I had such a great trip to the Pan Am Champs last year Keith and I knew we wanted to come back again,” said Orchard. “It wasn’t just that the race went well for me, it was the atmosphere and activities that we enjoyed…the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah State Fair, Faar better Ice cream shop, Bobsledding down the Olympic run, there’s a lot to do. As for the race itself, the course is tough but beautiful. The elevation gain on the ride suits me and with enough preparation I’m not as concerned about the altitude as I have been in the past. It’s a mental challenge to keep the pressure on all the way up to T2 and then continue going up on the run.”

Canada is sending a strong contingent with Katie Button, Katharine Carter, Annie Bergen, and XTERRA newbie Holly Henry. Brazil counters with Sabrina Gobbo, winner of four straight XTERRA Brazil Championships, and Laura Mira Dias who is ranked fourth in the series.

“This year I would like to have a better race than last year,” said Gobbo, who was 12th last year. “I felt a lot the altitude and was a little tired. This year I’ll be in Ogden one week early, and hope that helps and my body responds.”

Jacqui Allen has also had trouble with the altitude at this race in the past, but will be a little more comfortable this year

“This race has always been a real challenge for me to master due to the altitude,” she said. “I’ve struggled in the past with my energy levels so the goal for this race will be to finish and finish strong. I’ve been living at altitude for four weeks now and have adapted very well so I’m excited to see what I can bring to the race. If it doesn’t work out it’s certainly no reflection of my fitness, it’s just altitude. I love the course, it’s the most stunning place to be in September and once I’m up the first hill on the run I’ll be smiling all the way into the finish line.”

In addition to Snyder and LaPoint, the American’s will be represented by 2015 USA Champ Emma Garrard and Julie Baker, who finished third in Utah last year. Other U.S. racers include Genevieve Evans, Heather Zimchek-Dunn, Caroline Colonna, Jessie Koltz, and Anne Usher.

Follow the elite race live on twitter @xterraoffroad and find live video look-ins on Facebook/xterraplanet starting at 9am MST on Saturday, September 16. Learn more at www.xterraplanet.com.

Pam Am Tour Rank – Name – Age, Hometown

1 – Suzie Snyder – 35, Reno, Nevada
2 – Kara LaPoint – 30, Woody Creek, Colorado
3 – Morgane Riou – 31, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France
4 – Laura Dias – 32, Lavras, Brazil
5 – Annie Bergen – 41, Kelowna, B.C., Canada
6 – Sabrina Gobbo – 40, Sao Paulo, Brazil
7 – Lesley Paterson – 36, Stirling, Scotland
8 – Caroline Colonna – 53, Taos, New Mexico
9 – Julie Baker – 40, Sonora, California
10 – Jessie Koltz – 28, Reno, Nevada
11 – Katie Button – 32, Victoria, B.C., Canada
14 – Emma Garrard – 36, Park City, Utah
16 – Heather Zimchek-Dunn, 31, Olympia, Washington
22 – Genevieve Evans, 44, Tahoe City, California
26 – Katharine Carter – 30, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
29 – Anne Usher – 38, Portland, Oregon
NR – Lizzie Orchard – 32, Auckland, New Zealand
NR – Holly Henry – 19, Victoria, B.C., Canada
NR – Jacqui Allen – 34, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

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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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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Copeland overcomes Devonport curse as Jeffcoat defends her crown

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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.

 

Elite
Women
1.    Emma Jeffcoat                  (AUS)    1:01:58
2.    Natalie Van Coevorden     (AUS)    1:02:20
3.    Charlotte McShane           (AUS)    1:03:54
Men
1.    Brandon Copeland             (AUS)    56:52
2.    Marcel Walkington              (AUS)    57:13
3.    Maximilian Schwetz            (GER)    57:21

Under 23
Women
1.    Annabel White                    (AUS)    1:05:11
2.    Zoe Leahy                          (AUS)    1:06:05
3.    Amber Pate                        (AUS)    1:08:10
Men
1.    Brandon Copeland                (AUS)    56:52
2.    Hayden Wilde                          (NZ)    57:23
3.    Trent Dodds                             (NZ)    57:33

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The Road to Super League Triathlon Championship Series 2018/19 Begins Now

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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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