On a good day it's hard to imagine anywhere better in the world to have a triathlon than at Rabbit Island.
This summer there have been four events organised by the Nelson Triathlon Club, each one more perfect than the last, with clear, calm water, still conditions and sunny skies.
Jon Linyard was the headline act of the 64 who took part yesterday, winning the sprint race in 1hour 5min 23sec after leading the field out of the water at the end of the 750-metre swim.
Hayden Squance, 15, has gone from strength to strength in the past year and yesterday gave a hint of more potential to come, trailing by 11 seconds as they set off on the 20 kilometre bike course and following up with a smart run for second place in 1:8.4.
Josh Barber came out of the water in a handy position, but lost several minutes in the bike section, making up ground with the fastest 5km run split to finish third in 1:11.46.
Jason Thomsen left himself work to do after the swim leg, but set to it very industriously to get himself up to third during the run section, only to have Barber snatch that spot at the end by 12 seconds. Barber finished in 1:11.46, Thomsen in 1:11.58.
Thomsen wasn't the only one to lose a place to the flying Barber. Wayne Leighton has yet to learn that he's supposed to slow down in his fifties and he also had a shot at holding on to third, moving into that position in the bike section.
There was nothing wrong with Leighton's run, the 53-year-old producing the fourth fastest of the day, only to have Thomsen and Barber go by near the finish, leaving him in fifth with a time of 1:12.05.
Pogo McAuley, 43, is the world silver medallist in her age group over this distance, so it was hard to imagine she'd be bettered. Nevertheless, 51-year-old Eileen Searle is a matching talent and were it not for a slower swim she would have been running stride for stride with McAuley at the end of the race.
McAuley took the top women's spot in 1:12.56, followed by Searle in 1:15.10, Alyssa Matheson in 1:20.39 and a very fit Carolyn Squance in 1:22.09.
Mandy Stephens is known for her long-distance strength, but yesterday she opted for the short race, blitzing the field to finish in 38.56, ahead of Sam Traynor (40.51).
Teenage mates Gabrielle Hannen (40.57) and Brooke Matheson (41.02) took third and fourth after racing together most of the way. The pair will combine in the junior division of the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon on Saturday.
They weren't the only competitors testing out their triathlon skills prior to the team race, as all the competitors between 6th and 10th were novice triathletes having a trial run at their new sport.
Matt Walker won the longer duathlon option ahead of Matthew Lowe, Louis Clarke and Sandra Watts.
In the short duathlon, Rebecca Wasley made the most of an early lead to hold off Ross Mitchell, Stephen Neill, Meryl Hague and Patricia Black.
Full results: nelsontriclub.co.nz.
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