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Monday 9 May 2011 | Published in Regional


Wet, wild and windy thats what Rarotonga turned on for the 17th Air New Zealand International Triathlon on Saturday.

This did not deter the hardy athletes as the second largest field in history was on the start line at Muri beach, with 110 competitors battling what most swimmers would call a ferocious lagoon.

This was evident in the swim times, with most being at least 2 minutes slower than expected. Nathan Richmond (NZ) was first out of the water in 22.50 followed 3 seconds later by Boiler Swim winner Jon Robinson (NZ) and Stephen Farrell (NZ) just 5 seconds after Robinson. First woman out was local girl Kelly Pick in 24.00 with Vanessa Palmer (CI) and Jo Saxton (NZ) emerging 2nd and 3rd just over a minute later.

It was then on to the bike with gusty winds buffeting the cyclists the entire way around the island.

Local veteran Geoff Stoddart came away with the fastest cycle time of the day in 1.07.08 followed closely by Roland Neururer (CI) in 1.07.14 and Stephen Farrell in 1.07.31.

Fastest female bike time of the day went to Kelly Pick in 1.12.23 with Fiona Deed (NZ) getting around in 1.16.30 and Vanessa Palmer in 1.16.35.

The run was windy but cool, much to the overseas competitors relief, and fastest run time went to Stephen Farrell, clocking up 41.08 for his 10km, with Roland Neururer close behind in 41.19 and Nicholas Graham (NZ) not far off in 41.58.

Overall winner for the day was New Zealands Stephen Farrell in a fantastic time of 2.11.37 despite crashing on his bike at the roundabout in town and having to complete the rest of the ride in top gear including the hospital hill!

Local champion Roland Neururer continued his winning streak, coming in 2nd and breaking the local record in a blistering time of 2.14.55.

Third male was Nathan Richmond in 2.16.26, with Nicholas Graham in 2.17.23 taking out fourth, followed closely by fifth place getter and first woman, our own Kelly Pick, also breaking her own local record, streaking in at 2.17.31 and clocking up the fastest female run 6th overall. The first junior was Ryan Helg (NZ) in a fantastic time of 2.18.54, bettering his time by nearly 8 minutes from last year.

Seventh went to Geoff Stoddart, taking out first veteran and 2nd local male in 2.20.22 with his good mate Al Bieber from Australia almost catching him on the run and coming in 8th overall and 7th male in 2.20.55.

Jon Robinson featured again 9th overall and 8th male just 71 seconds later in 2.22.06.

Local all-rounder Terry Meyer grabbed 9th male in 2.24.41 and Vanessa Palmer took 10th overall place and second female home in 2.26.57.

Rounding up the top 10 males was Paul Davidson (NZ) in 2.29.20.

Third female was Jo Carrell (NZ) in 2.33.28, with Australias Rhonda Clelland 4th woman and first female veteran in 2.37.06.

Fifth female was Joanne Saxton (NZ) in 2.37.26 with Jo Tacon (NZ) 6th in 2.38.00, followed closely by Fiona Deed (NZ) in 2.38.55 as 7th female.

Local Jennie George took 8th place in 2.39.54 with Judith Taylor (NZ) 9th in 2.41.29 and another local Rangi Apera rounding up the top 10 females in a personal best of 2.43.15.

In the teams section, 22 teams battled it out with first team home and new veteran record holders the Three Old Beans made up of locals Justin Rous, Brendan Sutherland and Scott Howley in a great time of 2.17.40, closely followed by The Long & The Shorts Richard Denny, Richard Vinsen and Greg Gustafson in 2.20.04. Third team overall was Open Team Tri Time made up of Gareth Clayton, Mark Worthington and Hamish Weir in 2.26.48. First female team was the local Power Puff Girls made up of Shannon Saunders, Serena Hunter and Charlotte Piho in 2.39.38.

Fastest swimmer in the team section for the day was Tri Times Gareth Clayton, with Brendan Sutherland of Three Old Beans taking out fastest team bike time in 1.09.13 and Pukekohe Travels Leighton Hunt, back for his 10th Raro Tri clocking up the fastest team run in 40.09.

It was a good day at the office for the locals this year, with the men taking 3 of the top 10 places and the women taking 4 of the top 10, not to mention the winning female team and winning and record-breaking veteran team!

In fact, it was a good day at the office for everyone, which was evident on the smiles of almost all competitors as they finally crossed the finish line, knowing they had conquered this gruelling race of a 1.5km choppy swim, a 41km windy bike and 10km gusty run!

Local Vanessa Palmer was also extremely pleased with the group she has trained over the season in her triathlon coaching course, being able to boast all of her trainees having personal bests!

One of these was our youngest Cook Islander Jacob Pynenburg having a great debut race in a respectable time in tough conditions.

Other improvers were Apii Napa shaving a whopping 14 minutes from her best time, Taki Anaru whacking off 12 minutes and Antony Wills reducing 10 minutes off his time from last year. Rob Matheson was extremely pleased with his debut, coming in way better than expected, not to mention our oldest local Steve Whitta all smiles on his debut managing to get in under 3 hours!

Overall it was a hugely successful day, which could not happen without the support of our sponsors, large and small Air New Zealand, Westpac Bank, Island Car & Bike Hire, Edgewater Resort, The Computer Man, Vaima Water, CITC Liquor, CITC Pharmacy, Aroa Vegeland, CI Tourism, Pukekohe Travel and Snowbird Laundry.

Huge thanks also to the triathlon committee for their tireless efforts and hours of organising, not to mention all the volunteers on the day. Thanks too to the Girl Guides for their smiles and cheers at the water stops, Cook Islands Police, Ministry of Infrastructure & Planning, Rarotonga Sailing Club, Ina & Sharon Marsters of CI Athletics, Lynn Hobbs & Julie Afflecks huge volunteer group, all the road marshals, Andy Olah, CI Squash Club, Esther Honey vets, Karen Kirkhams First Aid assistance, Miss Cook Islands Ingara Gosselin at the finish gate, Mike Pynenberg for the finish photos, Katu our warrior, the pulsating drummers, John Hobbs as race MC, and of course all those out on the roads and at the site cheering everyone on. Meitaki Maata!

And Tri Week is not over yet today will see our popular Hash House Harriers run with a traditional umu, Tuesday is the Turtles Tour de Raro Cycle race and Wednesday we have our inaugural Matutu Mile Fun race. Keep your eye on the paper for details.