Sports switch works well for versatile Pohl
A change of sports proved a winner for New Zealand cross country skier Andy Pohl when he took out a truncated Timaru Triathlon on debut.
Pohl cruised to victory after the organisers had to cancel the swim and kayak legs due to rough sea conditions in Caroline Bay.
It was the first time in the triathlon's 29-year history the swim leg has been cancelled but organiser Juliet Fahey said it was a case of safety first, after holding discussions with Timaru Coastguard.
"The rolling waves from the big swell were the big concern and we had to make a call early."
Most competitors were philosophical about the decision and winner Pohl said it helped him out.
"It is my weakest discipline so it probably was an advantage."
Instead competitors faced a duathlon, running 3.3km before biking 40km and finishing with a 10km run.
Pohl said he switched from cross-country ski-ing to triathlon to try something different for a season.
The Otago University student said he would have loved to try and qualify for next month's Olympics in Sochi but the cost of competing was too much, having to attend at least half the World Cup rounds across the globe.
"My times would have made the 2010 games but the selection criteria was upped quite a bit." Instead he has turned to a season of triathlons and was pleased he had come up from Dunedin.
"The bike leg was beautiful, not much wind, and I liked the run with the rolling hills."
Second place went to Tim Valentine while Francis Stanbury, from Seattle, was third in a close finish.
The pair both raced the week before in the Auckland Ironman and were in catching distance of Pohl off the bike but he proved too strong running away from them.
Stanbury said he entered after hearing about the event from family in Christchurch.
"It was a tough bike and the run had too many hills for me, but I enjoyed it."
In the women's section Christchurch's Leonie Kaywood beat home Timaru's Julia Crossman to take the title.
Timaru's Gary Fahey was the first veteran home, finishing fifth overall.
Juliet Fahey said she would like to thank all those who volunteered to marshal, which saved the event.
"I was still getting calls at 10pm (Saturday) to see if I needed people which was great."
Fahey is also hoping to make the next year's 30th anniversary a big one.
"We are going to invite some of those who took part in the first one like Alan Rose, John McKenzie, Keith Foster, Bryan Prestidge and Jane Sullivan."
The Timaru Herald