Docherty lauds quality of field for IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland

Friday 17 January 2014, 11:14PM

By Ironman 70.3 Auckland


Bevan Docherty out of the water in last year's inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland.
Bevan Docherty out of the water in last year's inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland. Credit: Daryl Carey


Two-time Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty believes Sunday’s field for the Ironman 70.3 Auckland is the strongest outside of the world championship.

Docherty, who capped off his move to endurance triathlon with a debut victory in Ironman New Zealand last year, is among a stellar field for Sunday’s race.

It features five-time world champion Craig Alexander, defending champion Christian Kemp, Beijing gold medallist Jan Frodeno, last year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship silver medallist Terenzo Bozzone, 10 time Ironman New Zealand champion Cameron Brown and a host of Australian tyros.

The women’s field is headed by Ironman 70.3 podium placegetter Annabel Luxford (Australia), recent New Zealand long distance championship winner Catriona Morrison (Scotland) and top Kiwis Joanna Lawn and Samantha Warriner.

The stars faced the media today ahead of Sunday’s race in Auckland which doubles as the Asia Pacific Championship.

“It’s great that the organisers can put together such an amazing field,” Docherty said. “I thought I was going to come and have a little bit of a cherry pick race. To be honest I don’t think we are going to see as competitive a field until the world championships. It goes to show we can put world class events on here.”

His view was backed up by Brown, who played a key role last year in establishing the race in his home city.

“The calibre of the field is incredible. It is fantastic to see. The quality and number of top events in Asia Pacific now means we don’t need to travel again anymore,” he said.

Bozzone, who missed last year’s race after a freak accident on his bike two days before the event, is hoping to build on his outstanding end to the 2013 season. He had four wins and medals at both the Ironman 70.3 and ITU Long Distance World Championships in the second half of the year.

“It’s great to be able to race in Auckland. I’ve spent the last eight years based overseas mostly in America or Europe. To be able to do a major race like this in my home town, and race over some of the roads that I train on is pretty cool.

“The field we have we will put on a great show and show what a cool city and what a cool venue Auckland is.”

Another Kiwi keen to race is former world number on ranked Olympic distance triathlete, Warriner who also missed last year’s race after the birth of her first child.

“I couldn’t race last year because of the baby but I was itching to do it. We don’t get to race at home very much and having all these great athletes here has created a real buzz out there. I can’t wait to get out there and race,” said Warriner.

Most eyes are on the performance of Alexander, who has won the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii three times and Ironman 70.3 World title twice.

The Australian recently moved back to his home in Sydney after basing himself in USA for much of the last 10 years.

He has rarely raced in Asia Pacific and at this time of the year, but is looking forward to the race, his first time in the country since racing at Mt Maunganui in 2005, although he competed in ITU World Cups in Auckland in the mid 1990s.

“Asia Pacific is one of the sport’s new frontiers. It is really exploding with the number of events and number of participants.

“I watched the race here last year and wanted to do it. With the change to have such a prestigious race with so much prizemoney so early, then athletes are getting in shape a lot earlier. And therefore I think it is going to be a great race on Sunday.”

There are more than 1200 competitors from 53 countries, with professionals chasing a share of more than ZN$90,000 prize purse while age groupers will vie for Asia Pacific titles and qualifying places for both the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

The race, which starts at 6.15am, comprises a 1.9km swim in the Viaduct Harbour, a 90km bike over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and 21km run along the waterfront.

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