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Familiar faces seek glory: Locals and international athletes gear up for Rarotonga Triathlon

Thursday 2 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Sports, Triathlon


Familiar faces seek glory: Locals and international athletes gear up for Rarotonga Triathlon
The Triathlon Festival starts with the CITC Boiler Swim this afternoon, Thursday May 2. The race starts at 4.45pm and locals are encouraged to come and be a part of this great event. CITAI/19050707

The field for the 30th Anniversary Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon is at full capacity with over 60 individual entrants who will complete the whole triathlon, and another 45 entering in teams of two or three.

Cook Islands Triathlon Association president Roland Neururer said: “This is really special for our 30th anniversary event. We have maximum numbers and we are extremely happy to be welcoming so many visitors from New Zealand, Australia and some from Europe too.”

The Triathlon Festival starts with the CITC Boiler Swim this afternoon, Thursday May 2.  The race starts at 4.45pm and locals are encouraged to come and be a part of this great event. Registration is from 4pm on race day for local swimmers.

The 2024 Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon will have 60 individual entrants, who will complete the whole triathlon, and another 45 entering in teams of two or three.

Of the 110 triathlon entrants, over 60 will be taking part in the Boiler Swim which last year was won by Olivia Ritchie in a time of 12:16 minutes, followed by local Tem Strickland 13:06 mins. 

Olivia who is from New Zealand went on to win the triathlon in the ladies’ division last year and will definitely be defending both her swimming and triathlon titles this week.

Olivia’s husband Carl who placed third in the men’s race in 2023 will be fighting for top honours, although it is expected to be a good race with Australian Nathan Brailey, who has been active on the World Triathlon circuit this year, making for an exciting race to watch.

On Saturday, the flagship 30th Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon, an Olympic distance event consisting of a 1.5-kilometre swim, 42km cycle and 10km run, will be held. The event which has been sponsored by Air New Zealand for all 30 years will be taking place from the Tikioki Tri site and starts at 1.30pm.

The reputation of the event and the friendliness of the Cook Islands as a destination brings back many competitors year after year.

Familiar names and faces will again be lining up for what many say is their favourite triathlon. These include frequent visitors Henry Hale, Lauren and Kevin Hann, Maggie Ward, Catriona Pirie and Mike Gaffaney.

Our local field will be spearheaded by CITAI president Neururer who will once again be vying for the first local title. His recent success winning the local Tinman race of a slightly shorter distance – 1200 metres swim, 31-kilometre bike and 10km run – for the 14th consecutive year puts him as firm favourite in the men’s race, along with Mike Carr who is always consistent and will be expected to place highly.  

Other locals to look out for are Andrew Menzies who will be competing in his first ever full distance triathlon, Jacob Pynenburg who has shown strong form recently and will be expected to have a good race, and Alex Dullard and Troy Atkin. 

It is a close call for the local women, with the mother and daughter duel of defending champion Maya Postrzygacz looking to come in ahead of her mother Adrianna Skurosz and local lady Joan Murphy who won the women’s Tinman title also in strong contention. Lauren Turner who suffered a puncture last year will be looking to complete the event for the first time. 

In the teams’ race, it is great to see some long-time locals coming together, with Serena Hunter being joined by Andrew Whittaker and Fiona Pekepo, Kelly Pick racing with Lucy McDonald and Brooke Ross, and juniors Ara Wyatt, Edmund Postrzygacz and Olivia Postrzygacz taking on the mammoth task and looking to show the adults just how it’s done!

Air New Zealand and Cook Islands Triathlon wish all athletes a fantastic race.  Road users are advised that cyclists will be travelling at speed from Tikioki through town and out towards Arorangi from 2pm on Saturday and extreme caution is needed.

This comes ahead of the Ride Rarotonga Tour de Raro which will be held on Tuesday, May 7 and is a fast a furious cycle race anti-clockwise around the island.

Once again extreme caution is advised as the cyclists are often travelling faster than other road users. CITAI

30th Air New Zealand Rarotonga International Triathlon Festival

Today 4:30pm

CITC Boiler Swim

This is an ocean swim of approximately 800 metres - an out and back around the protruding wreck of the SS Maitai. It starts and finishes from the shoreline in front of Trader Jack’s Bar & Grill (Ara Tapu, in Avarua) on the Thursday afternoon before the Triathlon. The event is open to anyone. Supporters, local residents and anyone else visiting Rarotonga are all welcome to join the fun.

New Zealand Olympian Nathan Richmond holds the course record of 9 minutes, set in 2001 under exceptional conditions.

Location: Trader Jack’s (Avarua Township)

Prizegiving and Carbo-Loading Pasta Dinner

The Pasta Dinner follows the Boiler Swim and will be held at the Edgewater Resort. At the Pasta Dinner there will be a prize giving for the CITC Boiler swim and Registration Package pickup for competitors who did not collect at the Boiler Swim. There will also be a Triathlon Race Briefing during the Pasta Dinner, so be sure to ask any questions if you are unsure of anything related to the triathlon.

Saturday 1:30pm

Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon

The International Triathlon was first run in 1995. While the majority of competitors each year have come from New Zealand, the event has also had international participants from Australia, Germany, India and Papua New Guinea. The event comprises 1.5km Swim, 42km Bike and 10km Run.

Transition Area Opens: 11:30am

Race Start: 1:30pm

Race Cut-Off: 6:00pm

Location: Tikioki Triathlon Site (Starts and finishes)

Sunday 4:30pm

Prize Giving Awards Dinner

The awards dinner is the chance to wind-down and celebrate your participation. It is also a good opportunity to re-live achievements or mishaps with friends. Following the dinner will be the awards presentation to all category winners, plus random draws for spot prizes provided by the event sponsor Air New Zealand. Winners must be present in order to collect their prize.

Location: Edgewater Resort & Spa in Arorangi

Monday 5:00pm

Hash House Harriers Fun Run & BBQ

The Rarotonga chapter of the Hash House Harriers organises an Island BBQ for the participants and supporters who are attending the Triathlon Festival. This event will start with the ‘Hash Run’ (optional) which ends up on a beach (location to be determined). The location details are announced at the Awards banquet. A delicious assortment of BBQ food and salads will be available, prepared by the local Hash House members.

Location: TBC

Tuesday 4:30pm

Ride Raro Tour De Raro Cycle Race

31.2km Cycle race around the island that allows drafting! This cycle race was added to the list of events in 1998 as an additional event for visiting athletes and a chance for the Cook Islands residents to get some international competition. The course record is 42:16 minutes, set in 2002 by Australian Ironman Luke Bell. Bell was unable to complete the triathlon that year due to an injury but his cycle split in the Tour de Raro has since been unbeatable. It is a one lap clockwise circumnavigation of Rarotonga’s coastal road (31.2km), starting and ending in Avarua (town centre) on the Tuesday afternoon. Drafting is permitted. Since many riders will have triathlon style bikes, the rules in this race are that you must not use your profile bars unless you are leading. This is for safety reasons.

Location: Ride Raro at Avarua Township

Prize Giving Awards Dinner (Ride Raro Tour De Raro)

An awards presentation and BBQ is held at the Edgewater following the Ride Raro Tour De Raro cycle race.

Winners Through The Years

Year Men Women
1995 Scott Balance (NZ) Shanelle Barrett (NZ)
1996 Will Smith (NZ) Shanelle Barrett (NZ)
1997 Bryan Rhodes (NZ) Sarah Harrow (NZ)
1998 Bryan Rhodes (NZ) Karmel Bartolich (AUS)
1999 Brent Imomen (US) T Tara Lee Marshall (NZ)
2000 Will Smith (NZ) Jenni Tibbetts (AUS)
2001 Jason Metters (AUS) Shanelle Barrett (NZ)
2002 Yoann Hotellier (TAH) Shanelle Barrett (NZ)
2003 Terenzo Bozzone (NZ) Lynley Allison (NZ)
2004 Yoann Hotellier (TAH) Lynley Allison (NZ)
2005 Nathan Richmond (NZ) Gina Ferguson (NZ)
2006 Will Smith (NZ) Debbie Tanner (NZ)
2007 Thomas Henderson (CI) Serena Hunter (CI)
2008 Josh White (NZ) Jacinda Papps (NZ)
2009 Josh White (NZ) Kelly Pick (CI)
2010 Josh White (NZ) Michelle Bremer (NZ)
2011 Stephen Farrell (NZ) Kelly Pick (CI)
2012 Stephen Farrell (NZ) Kelly Pick (CI)
2013 David Vernon (NZ) Vanessa Woodger (CI)
2014 David Vernon (NZ) Vanessa Woodger (CI)
2015 Graham Perks (NZ) Samantha Warriner (NZ) (first female to ever win overall)
2016 Jake Jackson-Grammer (NZ) Mary Gray (NZ)
2017 Jake Jackson-Grammer (NZ) Rebecca Clarke (NZ)
2018 Swim/ Run Only, No Cycle due to a storm as the race started Sam Kettle (NZ) Harriet Browning (CI)
2019 Sam Kettle (NZ) Molly Swanson (NZ)
2022 Mike Roigard NZ Rebecca Grace NZ
2023 Brent Knight NZ Olivia Ritchie N