Double delight as Cantabrians clean up
Canterbury triathletes Dylan McNeice and Gina Crawford scored a Christchurch double at the 2013 Challenge Wanaka championship with commanding wins on Saturday.
Crawford triumphed over a stomach bug, suffered earlier in the week, to set a new women's course record of 9hr 24min 31sec, bettering her previous record by about four minutes.
McNeice had a breakthrough victory in his first long-distance triathlon, after 10 years of racing as a professional over the Olympic distance, finishing in 8hr 51min 18sec .
Jamie Whyte of Auckland (8hr 55min 43sec) and Chris McCormack of Australia (8hr 58min 05sec) were second and third respectively, with McCormack clawing his way into contention for the podium after a windy bike ride.
Candice Hammond, of Cambridge, (9hr 44min 22sec) ran down Joanna Lawn, of Auckland, (9hr 44min 30sec) in the final 2km to finish second in the women's race, with Lawn collapsing with exhaustion on the finish line in third.
The race started in a storm and finished in brilliant sunshine for former surfer McNeice, who showed his supremacy over the men in the extremely choppy Roys Bay by completing the 3.8km swim first in 47min 56sec. He beat his closest rivals Auckland's Bryan Rhodes and 2011 Challenge Wanaka winner Whyte out of the water by several minutes and slowly extended his lead throughout the 180km cycle.
"I just couldn't believe it. I was out in front the whole time and kept expecting to be caught. The only time I was caught was while I was in the toilet," McNeice said.
Crawford was first woman out of the water in about 61 minutes, with about a 20-second lead on her rivals and had extended this to 10 minutes over Auckland's Joanna Lawn by the 100km mark on the 180km bike leg.
"The swim was really slow. I think that was the first time I've done over an hour in the swim. I didn't think I had a chance of cracking the course record but then I had an amazing bike ride and held it together in the run," Crawford said.
Crawford said she had entered the race feeling uncertain about how it would go after being sick and felt weak in the latter stages of the run but had pushed through it.
Meanwhile, Australians led the way at the Ironman 70.3 in Auckland yesterday claiming both the men's and women's Asia-Pacific Championship titles.
Unknown Sydneysider Christian Kemp ran away from Kiwi favourite Bevan Docherty 5km out from the finish to win the biggest race of his career in a time of 3:56:02. The United States-based Docherty, a double Olympic medallist, hung on to finish second ahead of compatriot Clark Ellice, from Taranaki.
In the women's pro race, Brisbane-based Annabel Luxford, the former world No 1 Olympic distance athlete, led almost start to finish to win in a time of 4:19:18.
MEN: Dylan McNeice, Christchurch, 1 (8hr 51min 18sec); Jamie Whyte, Auckland, 2 (8hr 55min 43sec); Chris McCormack, Australia, 3 (8hr 58min 05sec). WOMEN: Gina Crawford, Christchurch, 1 (9hr 24min 31sec); Candice Hammond, Cambridge, 2 (9hr 44min 22sec); Jo Lawn, Auckland, 3 (9hr 44min 30sec).