Wellington turned on a simply perfect day and close to 900 triathletes (a record for the national champs) enjoyed the conditions in the final round of the Contact Tri Series, an event that doubled as the National Age Group Championships over the standard distance and provided a glimpse into the future of the sport.
Today saw the new Tag Team format raced for the first time at this level in New Zealand. While various relay events are held at club races around the country, this was the first test of the International Triathlon Union format with two male and two females making up each team, with each team member racing a super sprint distance before tagging the next competitor.
The ITU are pushing hard for this format of racing to be included at the Olympic Games, with every likelihood that this will happen in time for Rio 2016. Adding to the lure of the new format was the $4,000 first prize, resulting in a number of strong teams on the start line under warm sunny skies.
It was the Dunedin dominated team of Rob Creasy, Flossie Van Dyk, Katie Menzies and Tom Francis who won the day ahead of the Tauranga quartet of Andrew Lloyd, Owen Miller, Nicola McKay and Alice McFall.
Creasy is convinced the Team Tag format has a huge future.
“I loved this, it was amazing. I think this will explode; it was so much fun to race. We were all so nervous; we were having kittens out there on the course watching each other. Tactically I think we got it right, we were allowed to choose the team order and I think we got ours bang on, the race itself though was great.”
Menzies agreed, saying she was surprised at how exciting it was to be a part of.
“That was full on, when Flossie was coming up to the changeover I was just beside myself, it was awesome, real good fun. This has been awesome, I think this should be at more events and certainly here in Wellington next year, it will just take off I’m sure. I would love to come back and defend the title; I reckon we might be hard to beat too!”
Earlier in the day it was Creasy again and Maddy Brunton who took line honours in the Contact Trophy races, Creasy using a busy day to prepare for a title at Ironman Melbourne in a few weeks and Brunton in a strong showing to end a frustrating season for the Waikato triathlete.
Creasy was quickly into his work and managed to hold off a strong challenge from Tom Francis (Wanganui).
“The water was cool this morning but Wellington knows how to turn it on and today was magic for racing. Once you get into the race though the adrenalin takes over and you don’t worry so much about the cold water temperatures.
“The race was really tough though, I knew Tom was going to come at me on the bike, it is awesome to race someone who has trained so hard and is so dedicated to the sport. I knew I had to put my head down and work so hard throughout the run and managed to get there. This is my first Contact Series win over the standard distance so I am really happy.”
Brunton has had her share of disappointments this year so was pleased to get across the line first.
“I’m stoked to be honest, to come away after not racing so well this year with a win is just great. It has been an absolutely stunning day, while the water was a bit cold – I couldn’t feel my toes on the first lap of the run, the course is great though and I am really happy with my form today.”
Racing was intense amongst the age groupers, from the 18 year olds to the 70 plus brigade as everyone had their eye on a place in the New Zealand team for the ITU Age Group World Champs to be hosted in Auckland over Labour Weekend this year.
Contact Tri Series
Team Tag Race
4 athletes per team, 250m swim, 5km bike, 1.6km run
1 Rob Creasy, Katie Menzies, Flossie van Dyke, Tom Francis 1:07:19
2 Andrew Lloyd, Owen Miller, Nicola McKay, Alice McFall 1:08:18
3 Kristen Baker, Brad Aldrich, Maddy Brunton, Nick Berry 1:09:39
Age Group National Champs
1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run
(age group in brackets – full age group results posted to www.triseries.co.nz )
1 Rob Creasy (30-34) Dunedin 1:55:00
2 Tom Francis (20-24) Wanganui 1:55:37
3 Hamish Hammond (20-24) Greytown 1:58:03
1 Maddy Brunton (20-24) Waikato 2:11:42
2 Katie Menzies (25-29) Dunedin 2:12:04
3 Naomi Ferguson (30-34) Havelock Nth 2:12:29