Graham O'Grady's golden summer continued when he smashed the men's record on his way to victory in the New Plymouth half ironman on Saturday.
The win was the Kinloch man's fifth of the summer following victories in the Tinman triathlon (Tauranga), the Taupo half ironman, the Rotorua triathlon and the Tauranga half ironman.
O'Grady was in a class of his own - first out of the water after the 2km swim, first home in the 90km bike from New Plymouth to Rahotu and return, and first in the 21.1km run along the Coastal Walkway.
His winning time of four hours, three minutes, 56 seconds was more than 10min clear of last year's champion Brodie Madgwick, of Auckland, and bettered Madgwick's mark of 4hr 13min 53sec.
"I'm stoked with another win," O'Grady said minutes after finishing. "I had a flat on the bike. I'd just turned on to the State Highway when I heard a bang. I thought, that's my race over. It felt like an eternity until I found the glass. I just flicked it out."
O'Grady didn't have to change the tyre. Instead the tyre was filled with expandable glue, which self-sealed the puncture and he was able to ride on.
It didn't slow O'Grady down, with the 30-year-old starting the run with a comfortable buffer.
"It's a great course. A tough run, a tough course. That's what they should all be like," he said. "It's a great atmosphere down here. The locals are out there on the course cheering you on. I just hope this event keeps on growing."
O'Grady is a non-starter for the New Zealand Ironman at Taupo on March 2, instead heading to the United States for a few races.
With all the talk about drugs in sport at the moment, the question of drugs was popped to O'Grady.
"I'm on hard training," he shot back.
Madgwick, who finished in 4hr 14min 19sec, was satisfied.
"I'm happy with second. I love coming down here," he said. "My legs were gone with 10km to go. I knew Simon [third placegetter Simon Cochrane from Rotorua] was closing fast. He's a good runner and I just managed to hang on."
Madgwick paid tribute to O'Grady. "He's classy. He's in his prime . . . it's good to see."
Madgwick also made a plea for the nationals to be held on the course. "They need to bring the national champs here. It's such a good course. It's honest and demanding. It just doesn't leave you alone. You think you can have a rest and then around the corner there's another hill. The best man definitely wins here."
As for his immediate future, it's head down and work. "I want to get some money together for Kona now," said the Tamaki College teacher. "And to have surgery on my dodgy knee."
Cochrane was pleased with his race, especially his run where he powered over the 21.1km course almost running down Madgwick.
"Running is my strength. I've worked on my run speed and I'm looking forward to Ironman New Zealand in Taupo in three weeks."
Cochrane's time was 10sec slower than Madgwick - 4hr 14min 29sec. There was a 7min break back to fourth placed Matt Parsonage, from Rotorua, with 2011 winner Keegan Williams, of Cambridge, fifth. Will O'Connor, from Havelock North, was next ahead of New Plymouth's Hayden Corkin.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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