Cameron Brown turned back the clock twenty years after winning his first triathlon in senior company to once again claim the Whangamata round of the Contact Tri Series showing there is plenty of life left yet in the 38 year old Ironman legend’s legs as the 9 time Ironman winner held off the younger brigade.
The women’s race proved quite the opposite with promising young Tirau triathlete Rebecca Kingsford upsetting another Ironman legend in Jo Lawn with the 7 time NZ Ironman champion and Waikato’s Maddy Brunton on a day when the mercury hit 30 degrees.
Brown was delighted with his workout and impressed by the competition, remembering back to 1992 when he defeated his hero Rick Wells at the same venue.
“I just love racing here and a week ago I wasn’t going to but I just had to get out in what is a great atmosphere and a great course. It was far from easy though with Ed riding superbly and keeping the pressure on throughout, it was only in the closing kilometres when I could relax and button off, thinking of next week and Tauranga.
“This is a perfect preparation for Tauranga and great to get the legs turning over. But the best part is soaking up the atmosphere and the crowd with people lining the course and the beach the whole way. I remember coming here as a 19 year old and beating my hero in Rick Wells, for now I have held off the younger guys but they keep on coming.”
The typically searing hot conditions greeted a record field of close to 600 participants in the latest round of the Contact Tri Series at the Coromandel Peninsula hotspot with Brown and Lawn enjoying a hit out just five days out from the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman.
As expected it was former Commonwealth Games swimmer Brent Foster who led out of the water in relatively calm conditions, joined at the hip by promising junior athlete Edward Rawles (Inglewood) with Brown amongst a chase group a minute and a half further back.
Foster was quickly overtaken by the fast moving Rawles and eventually Brown, but it wasn’t until the 30km mark that the veteran went past the man half his age and took control of the race. Once on the run Brown was in familiar and comfortable territory as he edged further clear, allowing a relaxed approach over the final few kilometres as he saved his legs for next week’s appointment over the half ironman distance in Tauranga.
Rawles continued for an impressive second place with Brad Aldridge coming home strongly for third and a first podium in a Contact Tri Series race.
The women’s race was a fascinating duel with Kingsford, Teresa Adam, Jo Lawn and Maddy Brunton in the thick of it all day. Adam led out of the water as she again showed her strength in the swim discipline, it was a lead she held off the bike from a fast riding Kingsford 20 seconds behind with Lawn and Brunton a further 45 seconds back.
Kingsford headed out like a startled rabbit on the run but Adam was hanging tough while Lawn and Brunton struggled to make an early impact. With one lap of three completed Adam started to struggle with a calf muscle problem and lost time before eventually having to withdraw allowing Kingsford into the lead with Lawn now second, albeit struggling to close the gap as she coped with a blister on her foot, one that was getting bigger with every step taken.
There was no denying the breakthrough performance of Kingsford though, the year old was all class and a comfortable winner from Lawn with Brunton ending a ‘disappointing’ day in third place as she backed up her earlier Contact Series win in Rotorua.
19 year old Kingsford understandably enjoyed her day’s work and in particular the names behind her at the finish line.
“I love that today but it was tough. I enjoyed the swim with the waves and a bit of swell, the bike was tough and to be honest I kept looking around to see how far back Jo was and if she was catching and the run was incredibly hot.
“To think I have beaten a legend like Jo Lawn today though is unreal and a great result “although I know she is getting ready for Tauranga next week. My goal is to again make the New Zealand team for the world champs later in the year and to race the North Island events in the Contact Series, this is a great start to the summer though for sure.”
Amongst a field that included many beginners and first time triathletes the Contact Inspirational Kiwi award went to a collection of three Contact Trophy teams (and kids) representing five families all staying at the one bach in Whangamata. What started as a dare between father and son ended up with three teams and some great rivalry over a few drinks before and after the race between friends, some who had triathlon experience, some who had little or none to call on but all of who had a great day.
Connor Clements, Sean Jacka, and Robert Hill finished fourth overall with Martin Smithson, Ginny Gooch and Patrick Verryt in another team. Ian Craig and John Wilson teamed up with Triathlon New Zealand Media Manager Andrew Dewhurst in the third team from the one address. As well as the teams enjoying their day, a number of children from the bach (and next door) were also racing on the day, proving triathlon has no boundaries when it comes to age or ability.
Contact Tri Series
Trophy Race (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run)
1 Cameron Brown Auckland 1:53:23
2 Edward Rawles Inglewood 1:55:46
3 Brad Aldrich Auckland 1:58:56
4 Owen Miller Tauranga 1:59:21
5 Bruce Hunter Auckland 2:00:25
1 Rebecca Kingsford Tirau 2:06:14
2 Jo Lawn Auckland 2:08:29
3 Maddy Brunton Waikato 2:12:08
4 Sophie Corbidge Auckland 2:15:54
5 Tanya Dromgool Queenstown 2:16:26