Jack Moody and Maeve Kennedy emerged victorious at the 19th annual Xterra Rotorua Festival off-road triathlon elite titles. Moody posted his first big Xterra win while Kennedy, who had won at Xterra Wellington two weeks ago, secured her third Xterra victory. In the men’s elite race, Sam Osborne, the winner of the previous four editions of the race, led the pack in the water alongside David Martin, but Osborne lost his one-minute lead on the bike and was eventually passed by Moody on the run. Moody had posted the fastest run and bike split times of the day. Kennedy narrowly beat Samantha Kingsford and Lizzie Orchard to win the women’s elite race.
Why it matters: Xterra Rotorua Festival is a renowned triathlon event, and winning it can significantly boost the profile of the victors. Jack Moody's first big Xterra win and Maeve Kennedy's third victory show the strength of the two athletes and indicate their potential in the sport. The results of this race will also help in shaping the triathlon rankings for this year.
Driving the news: Sam Osborne was the pre-race favorite, having won the last four editions of the event, but he couldn't defend his title against Jack Moody's excellent run and bike splits. On the women’s side, Maeve Kennedy held off Samantha Kingsford and Lizzie Orchard to win the title. The victory was Kennedy's third Xterra win, having won Xterra Wellington two weeks ago. What they are saying:
- “Absolutely over the moon with the win, especially with all the legends of the sport that have won it in the past, it's a really special feeling, and what an awesome event. I always love the Xterra family and vibe,” said Jack Moody, the men’s elite winner.
- “It was tough, Samantha definitely gave me a run for my money. We played it together on the bike for a while until Samantha pulled away from me a little bit. I just had her in sight and hoped I could hold onto her until the run to hunt her down,” said Maeve Kennedy, the women’s elite winner.
- “These guys ahead of me are world-class athletes. This is Sam’s race so anyone that can get close to him at this venue is doing bloody well. Jack is the future of endurance sport racing in the country so to get behind these guys is not too bad a day,” said Kieran McPherson, who finished third in the men’s elite race.
By the numbers:
- Jack Moody's winning time in the men's elite race was 2:06:16.
- Maeve Kennedy's winning time in the women's elite race was 2:26:35.
- Sam Osborne won the previous four editions of the men’s elite race. Between the lines: Jack Moody's victory at Xterra Rotorua Festival could inspire him to set his sights on the Xterra World Champs this year. Also, Maeve Kennedy's win at two consecutive Xterra events shows that she is in excellent form and has potential to do well in other triathlon competitions this year.
The bottom line: Jack Moody and Maeve Kennedy emerged victorious at the 19th annual Xterra Rotorua Festival off-road triathlon elite titles, cementing their positions as two of the best endurance sport racers in the country.