'Iron lady' Hammond runs away with treble

MURRAY HILLS
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2013
Candice Hammond
ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX NZ
THREE-PEAT: Candice Hammond, of Cambridge, crosses the finish line in race record time in the New Plymouth half ironman on Saturday.

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Candice Hammond is stamping her mark on the New Plymouth half ironman.

The 28-year-old from Cambridge made it a hat-trick of wins when she blitzed the women's field in the Wells-sponsored event on Saturday, winning in race record time.

Her time of four hours 36 minutes 17 seconds clipped more than 9min off her time of 4hr 45min 54sec recorded 12 months ago.

"I'm really delighted, it means a lot to me," she said.

"I love this course and event. It's challenging, it's well organised and I'll definitely be back next year."

Hammond said the race was the perfect buildup to Ironman New Zealand in Taupo on March 2.

"The timing is perfect. I had a really good swim and led out of the water. I'm usually chasing. The bike was good. One thing I'm learning is that the best girls always race alone. It's about being mentally strong and I'm working on that. I've done a few cycle legs in ironmans on my own, 180km," she said.

"My coach [Keegan Williams] told me to push hard on the swim and the bike and relax a little on the run. I did that today."

Second home was Hammond's training partner Erin Furness, of Hamilton, who is also trained by Williams.

Furness finished strongly on the run to overhaul Hilary Wicks, of Papakura, but her time of 4hr 49min 2sec was well off the pace set by Hammond.

First home in the teams event for the half ironman was Highway Robbers, from New Plymouth. The team of swimmer Dylan Finnigan, cyclist Brohn Torckler and runner Karl Dravitzki finished in 4hr 20min 49sec, more than 6min clear of their nearest rivals.

The men's half marathon run was won by David Morton, from New Plymouth, with Klaartje van Schie, from Mangaweka, winning the women's race.

The men's half marathon walk was won by Matthew Holcroft from Hamilton, with New Plymouth's Jocelyn Merwood taking the women's race.

Event organiser Selwyn Brown was rapt with the way the event went.

"It was great.

"We were blessed with the weather . . . another good Naki event," Brown said.

"The visitors all said they'd been well looked after. Keegan [Cambridge triathlete Keegan Williams] said it was the best starter pack he had had in four years of racing.

"Overall, another solid event. I'd give it an eight out of 10."

Brown said there had been no major injuries.

"We had a few pull out with injuries but nothing serious."

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