Contact Energy Cup leaders Stephen Sheldrake and Katherine Anton have both confirmed they will start in the next round of the Contact Energy My Sport Triathlon Series at Napier on February 23 along with Olympic Games contender Nicky Samuels.
Confirmation of the current leaders in the seven race series is a boon for the Napier event, with Gisborne’s Sheldrake defending both the Napier and overall Contact Energy Cup titles from last year while Anton is looking to hold off the form athlete in the series in Nicky Samuels.
Whangarei’s Samuels has won each of the three races she has entered so far this summer and is looming as the big challenger to Andrea Hewitt for the final berth on the New Zealand team at the Beijing Olympics in August.
A strong finish for Sheldrake and Samuels will effectively secure the overall Contact Energy Cup titles with athletes counting their top four results across the seven races towards the overall series.
The biggest threat to Sheldrake at this stage appears to be Havelock North’s Callum Millward and Bobby Douglas from Invercargill. Millward is on the way back after a year of calf muscle problems and looks to be improving with every race while Douglas is also making good strides in his first year as a fulltime athlete.
Racing will also cater for the ‘social’ or ‘novice’ athlete with a ‘Tri My Sport’ race over a shorter and easier course than the standard distance Contact Energy Cup race.
Tri NZ Events and Community Development Officer Richard Sceats is hoping for a big turnout from the Hawkes Bay community.
“The series has gone extremely well so far this year and the response to the Tri My Sport races has been fantastic at all venues. The distance and the course are achievable for people of all ages and abilities and are a great introduction to a great sport or perhaps a chance for some to return after time out for families, careers or the couch!”
Triathlon New Zealand will be out in force with a full technical team on hand to manage the event alongside the local Hawkes Bay Multisport Club. Tri NZ Technical Manager Shannelle Barrett is in Napier before the event hosting a level one Technical Course on the Thursday evening. The nine local officials on the course will then work on the event as part of the practical side of the course.
The Tri NZ office is clearly clearing out for the weekend with Tri NZ Director of Coaching Brett Reid also in town to talk to the club, coaches and interested parties.
Reid says the interest in coaching at all levels of the sport has never been higher.
“The sport is beginning to offer tangible value to coaches of all levels with new courses and modules being developed with the input of coaches throughout the country. My visit is largely an informal one but already there is good interest from the Hawkes Bay Multisport Club and the local triathlon community around the event and our coaching programmes.”
Further entries are expected in the final week before the event with a number of elite athletes yet to show their hand while the Tri My Sport is also expected to swell considerably in numbers as race day approaches.
Tri My Sport 500m Swim/16km Road Bike/5km Run
Contact Energy Cup Triathlon - 1500m Swim/40km Road Bike/10km Run
If the race is in or near your home town, you may want to consider picking up your race pack the day before the race. This will save you time on race day.
If you are considering entering for the race the day before, be prepare to stand in line a little longer and paying a late fee of an extra $15. Note: No late entries will be taken on Race Day (Saturday 23rd February).
Friday 22nd February, 4 – 8pm in the Marquee next to Transition.
Saturday 23rd February, 7 – 7.45am in the in the Marquee next to Transition.
8.00am Contact Energy Cup - Men
8.05am Contact Energy Cup - Women
8.10am Contact Energy Cup - Teams
8.30am - Tri My Sport
12.30pm - Prize Giving
Course details and maps can be found at www.triathlon.org.nz
Contact Energy Cup Points, after five races of seven*
Martin van Barneveld
*Athletes count their best four results towards overall points total