Christchurch Ironman champion Gina Crawford is a surprise but welcome entry for the Contact National Duathlon Championships in Christchurch on Sunday August 22, adding both a local and international flavour to the days racing, giving everyday participants in the sport the chance to say ‘I raced on the same course alongside an international Ironman champion.’
Tri NZ Event Manager Haidee Stratford says Crawford’s entry adds a real buzz to the day.
“While we have national titles on the line, this event is also a big day for the everyday participants, the weekend warriors of the sport who are out there to ‘have a go’ and achieve their own goals and objectives. Having Gina participate alongside some of our other elites though means those participants can rub shoulders with one of the best Ironman athletes in the world, not many sports offer that sort of an opportunity.”
29 year old Crawford simply couldn’t resist a tilt at an event that allows her to race in her own backyard with the added bonus of a national title being on the line.
“I will be at home in Christchurch and so saw it as a perfect opportunity to get a good hard work out, and it's lovely to be able to do a race at home. It's good to have something to aim for and to keep motivated, especially over a long winter.”
Crawford has spent the majority of the winter at home preparing for another season of international racing but has spent the past two weeks in Australia in search of some warmth and sunshine.
“I have spent the winter training at home and it has been a little difficult mentally and physically training in the cold. I tried to keep myself motivated by doing a few races at home, a couple of 10k running races and a sprint distance duathlon. Then the last week and a bit I have been in Australia preparing for the next couple of ironman races overseas. I am now feeling much better having been able to do some really good quality work over here and am gaining my fitness back. I am here in Australia for another week and a bit and then will get home the day before the duathlon and will be home for a week before travelling to the States.”
Incredibly Crawford has not raced a standard distance duathlon yet in her career, and admits she will miss her favoured swim at the start of the Halswell based event.
“The swim is my strongest discipline so I guess it will be harder for me. I also do not particularly like running without biking first, but after the first run is over with I will enjoy the rest of the race. I have never raced a standard distance Duathlon before so it will be a new experience. I have done 3 sprint duathlons before though so it is not completely new to me.”
Even though this is over the standard distance, with a 10km run, 40km bike and 5km run, it is of course still shorter than Crawford is used to.
“I am currently doing a lot of miles in preparation for my ironman on September 12th so I will be quite tired for the race, but I am looking to have a good hard quality workout. I am not sure if I will have a great deal of speed, but as long as I get a good workout I will be happy. My tactics are always to go as hard as I can for as long as I can no matter the distance. So it will just come down to how tired I am at the back of the amount of training I have done in the last few weeks to how fast I can go.”
Crawford admits then that race day is also a training day, and that is not just a chance to test out her own physical fitness, it is a rehearsal for other race days in more ways than one.
“I’m looking to get a good quality race workout, to push myself hard and to keep up with as many people as I can. It is also an ideal opportunity for me to test my race equipment; my Ceepo bike and my Rolf Prima race wheels, to make sure it is all in good working order before my ironman race in a few weeks time.
“But this is definitely a great opportunity to race at home. It will be so nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and not have to pack up my bike and spend days travelling to the race site. And of course it will be nice to race on a course where I have trained before.”
And it may not be the last time we see Crawford racing at home in Christchurch this coming season, with the new Contact Tri Series race at Pegasus also on the cards in January.
“I have only just heard about the new race, but I am pleased to hear that there will be a race in Christchurch. I spent some time training in Pegasus last summer and thought it was an ideal place for a triathlon. I will have done the Challenge Wanaka Iron distance race 2 weeks previous, but I will aim to line up at Pegasus too.”
Crawford will contest the National Duathlon title over the standard distance but there are other race options on the day with categories from schools to individual age groups and teams with participation just as big a focus as the National titles that are on the line. Entries are being accepted online at www.triathlon.org.nz with late entries accepted up to 9am on race day.
Contact National Duathlon Championships
Sunday August 22
Standard - 10km Run/40km Cycle/5km Run (min age is 16 as at 31 December 2010)
Short - 2km Run/10km Road Bike/3km Run (min age is 11 as at 31 December 2010)
Sprint - 5m Run/20km Bike/3km Run (min age is 13 as at 31 December 2010)
Start Times: (these may vary by 10-15 minutes)
9:30am Sprint & U19 Schools
11:30am U16 Schools
12:45pm Short & U14 Schools
1:30pm Year 7 & 8 Schools