WANAKA, NZ — Australia's Aaron Farlow came through a strong field to win
the sixth edition of the long-course Challenge Wanaka triathlon on Saturday.
Farlow broke the tape in 8:41:53, 10 minutes ahead of defending champion
Jamie Whyte of Auckland with Aucklander Kieran Doe another six minutes
behind in third.
Farlow, a rising Canberra-based professional, took his first Ironman win
last year in the UK and showed his class with a steady performance that
brought him from three minutes behind in the swim to an emphatic win. He
was clearly spent at the finish.
While disappointed he couldn't defend his title, Whyte said he was pleased
with a day that saw him racing solo much of the race and unable to pick up
the pace on the run as he'd hoped.
"I was trying to extract more pace from myself; I just couldn't get any
more running speed. I knew I was losing time but I just wasn't able to get
anything going on the run," he said. "I was cleanly beaten today by the
Whyte vowed to return next year, and took time at the finish to thank the
crowd that thronged Wanaka's lakeside Ardmore St. "Thanks to the people of
Wanaka for making me feel like I'm on my home ground," he said.
First out of the water were quick swimmers Doe and veteran professional
Bryan Rhodes, who covered the 3.8km in Lake Wanaka in just under 48min,
putting both under the swim course record of 49.97. Nearly 3min in arrears
came Farlow, trailed by Whyte, Courtney Ogden (AUS), Jimmy Johnsen (DEN),
Keegan Williams (NZL) and Petr Vaboursek (Czech Republic).
Once onto the bike Doe and Rhodes drove the pace in the early going with
Farlow, Whyte, Ogden and Johnsen rounding out the front-runners. Farlow
bridged the gap to the pair, joining Doe at the 70km mark as Rhodes had
dropped back with mechanical woes. Bedeviled by two flat tyres, Rhodes saw
his race end about 150km into the cycle. Farlow then made what turned out
to be the decisive move with 30km left to ride, overhauling Doe and coming
into the second transition area with more than two minutes in hand as the
gaps widened behind them. Farlow ticked off the first 21km of the marathon
in 1:28:27 and had 6min on Whyte, with Doe another three minutes in
arrears. Behind them Ogden and Johnsen were firing and would come through
to the finish in fourth and fifth.
CRAWFORD BACK IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE
The women's race was dominated wire to wire by three-time Challenge Wanaka
champion Gina Crawford of Christchurch, newly returned to full-time racing
after giving birth to her first child six months ago. The 30-year-old
Crawford exited the water in 54:21 and was never headed, reaching the
finish in 9:44:06 after holding off a hard-charging Britta Martin on the
run to take her fourth Wanaka title.
"It's just great to push yourself to the line and see how far you can go,"
Crawford said. "It's great to be back, I've missed racing."
After a strong bike, Crawford arrived in the transition area well clear of
fellow Kiwi Julia Grant and Germany's Britta Martin, a rising triathlon pro
now based in Nelson. Crawford stormed onto the run course and burnt through
the first 3km in 11 minutes on the way to a determined and speedy marathon.
Behind her, Martin (winner of last year's Challenge Wanaka half-distance
race) was having a strong run and gaining ground but could overhaul her. At
the finish Crawford had two and a half minutes on Martin and another 10
minutes on third place.
The sixth-year race saw 1,300 athletes from 30 nations competing in the
half-distance and full-distance triathlons. The race covers a 3.8km swim in
Lake Wanaka, a 180km bike ride past the lake and through spectacular
Southern Lakes and Central Otago scenery before wrapping up with a two-lap
42.2km marathon run along the Clutha River and lake's edge. For more
information, please visit www.challenge-wanaka.com.
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21 January 2012/Wanaka, NZ
(3.8km swim/180km cycle/42.2km run)
1) Aaron Farlow (AUS) (50:43/4:44:51/3:02:41) 8:41:53
2) Jamie Whyte (NZL) (51:31/4:47:45/3:08:55) 8:51:53
3) Kieran Doe (NZL) (47:44/4:50:23/3:15:42) 8:57:17
4) Courtney Ogden (AUS) (51:38/5:04:45/3:07:37) 9:08:42
5) Jimmy Johnsen (DEN) (52:50/5:07:09/3:04:59) 9:09:05
1) Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:44:06
2) Britta Martin (GER) 9:47:39
3) Simone Maier (GER) 9:57:42
4) Candice Hammond (NZL) 9:58:39
5) Julia Grant (NZL) 10:01:49