Winner made right move despite doubt

It was as she passed five-time Challenge Wanaka winner and course record-holder Gina Crawford late in the bike leg that Candice Hammond started to have doubts.

The Cambridge triathlete, who works part-time on a sheep farm as part of her racing recovery, wasn't just overtaking another rival, she was moving ahead of one of her role models.

"I felt pretty uncertain about it at the start; I wasn't too sure if I should or shouldn't," Hammond said of her race-winning move.

"I was questioning myself whether I'd gone too hard, but then I decided to stick to what I knew. I know how to read my body and I felt good."

Hammond wouldn't look back and, while Crawford did her best to pull back the former rower over the run, it was not the Wanaka-based professional's day.

"It hasn't sunk in; it doesn't seem real," Hammond said after her seven-minute win.

"This course is so hard and I didn't think I could win here. "

It was a heart-breaking finish for Crawford, who dearly loves succeeding in her adopted home town and in the race she has made her own.

"I don't think I've ever been in so much pain in [an iron-distance race] before. It was a real mental battle out there, but it was good to get to the finish line," she said.

Crawford has her sights set on doing well at the world championships in Hawaii.

"I knew it was going to be really hard because I've made a lot of changes to my biking and running and it just wasn't enough time, but I really wanted to race here because it's my favourite race."

Another transplanted Wanaka resident, Simone Maier, managed to struggle through some difficult times to run home in third place.

The age-group racing produced a beauty between former Olympic road cyclist Robin Reid and former Olympic track cyclist Matt Randall.

The 30-39 years pair could barely be separated in the water, or on the bike but, despite Randall taking 20 minutes off his previous best time, Reid took the honours.

They finished sixth and eighth, respectively, overall.

Auckland triathlon coach Bevan McKinnon won the Lake Wanaka Half men's race, with fellow Aucklander Larisa Marsh taking out the women's race.

Marsh was originally in the elite women's field but had to drop down to the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run after injuring a thumb during training.

Former Southlander Simon Croom, now living in Tauranga, finished second in the men's elite race.


The Southland Times