Wednesday 10 May 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Sports, Triathlon
The 27th annual Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon has been hailed a success.
The final event of the week took place last night as the Ride Rarotonga Tour de Raro Cycle Race saw riders depart from town at 5pm for a blisteringly quick lap of the island.
Motorists were asked to kindly allow the cyclists space to race through as they completed in the final event which was a highlight in the calendar for many competitors.
Cook Islands Triathlon Association (CITA) president Roland Neururer presented a comprehensive report in thanking all the marshals and volunteers for giving their time to keep the athletes safe on the course, the Raina Family for the use of their land, and to the sponsors Air New Zealand, The Edgewater Resort and Spa, BSP, Bond Store, Cook Islands Tourism, Vaima Water, CITC, Ride Rarotonga, and Island Car and Bike Hire.
A field of almost 100 athletes took part in the Cook Islands Triathlon Association’s flagship event, the Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon on Saturday.
The international competitors landed here earlier in the week to strong winds and rain and the committee had been actively checking the forecast on a regular basis.
Their prayers were answered and they were blessed with much calmer conditions, and whilst Saturday was very humid, the wind and swell had dropped considerably.
The Tikioki Tri site was a spectacular sight with some amazing triathlon bikes racked and ready to compete.
As the warrior’s chant reverberated out across the lagoon the competitors gathered nervously in the water for the 1500 metre swim.
The field soon split into about five packs as athletes jostled for position in the water, looking to swim close to other competitors to get advantage of the leader’s draft through the water.
Olivia Ritchie, who had earlier in the week won the CITC Boiler Swim, took a commanding lead, one which she would keep for the entire swim.
Behind her, husband Carl was holding off a fight from local youngster Seychelle Carter as well as Australian Wade Fitzgerald, New Zealander Brendan Heal, and a small pack consisting of Roland Neururer, Maya Postrygacz, Liz Hunt, Graham Simpson and Brent Knight.
Once they had completed the 1500m course, the swimmers had to run up the beach and through to their bikes where the individual triathletes took off as fast as they could, and those in teams tagged their partners for their cycle leg.
Marshals guided the competitors out through Muri to Avarua and on to the Black Rock Store, where they climbed half of Hospital Hill before heading to Arorangi and turning back towards home.
The athletes were lucky that only one small shower in town passed through during the afternoon, and the cycle leg was mostly dry, and with the new tar-seal, fast times were inevitable.
Top cyclist Brent Knight soon took the lead and completed the 42 kilometre course in a blistering 1:02:47 which is an average speed of just over 40km/h.
The cycle leg is non-drafting, meaning that each cyclist must stay a minimum of 12 metres from any other bike or vehicle, unless they are actively passing.
The field was well split and great times were recorded by last year’s winner Mike Roiguard, former Tereora teacher Brynn Parry, Brendan Heal, Wade Fitzgerald and local Roland Neururer.
In the women’s race, Olivia Ritchie held a commanding lead, but youngster Maya Postrygacz was having a fantastic afternoon, following a superb swim she took off on her bike in second place in the female event.
This was Maya’s first race over this distance, and she showed amazing stamina and composure to stay ahead of Adrianna Skurosz (her mum) who was fighting to close the gap.
Local veteran athlete Lucy McDonald had a blistering cycle, recording the fastest cycle split of the day in the women’s division.
Less lucky was local lady Lauren Turner who sadly had to pull out of the race with a puncture about 7km into the cycle route, which ended her race.
In the team’s division, Leighton Hunt was capitalising on his wife Liz’s fantastic swim and pulled out a super-fast bike split to extend their commanding lead.
Cyclists Deal Yarrall, Geoff Stoddart and Jack Bradbrook clearly showed their strength pulling out strong cycle legs for their teams.
Back into the Tikioki Tri Site, the athletes transitioned quickly from bike to run, and those in teams again tagged their partners.
Conditions on the run were extremely humid, athletes found it hard to control their breathing and body temperatures, and it was evident, from a number of competitors who found it hard to run at the pace which they were accustomed to.
Brent Knight came into the run a clear leader and it was his race to win from this point.
He did not disappoint and blazed through the 10km in an impressive 40:54, the fastest individual run time of the afternoon to cross the line as winner of the Air New Zealand Rarotonga Triathlon 2023 in a time of 2:14:04.
He was followed by last year’s winner Mike Roigard in a time of 2:21:38 and Carl Ritchie took third place honours, crossing the line at 2:26:50.
First local male in a time of 2:35:03 was Roland Neururer, for a very impressive 11th consecutive win.
In the women’s division, having led from the front all afternoon, New Zealand triathlete Olivia Ritchie crossed the line victorious in a time of 2:25:26.
The pain and discomfort which might have been apparent on the run vanished from Maya’s face as she punched the air across the line in second place and taking out the title of first local female in a time of 2:47:04, the youngest ever local female winner in this event, aged just 15.
Adrianna Skurosz placed third in a time of 2:49:25.
In the team’s race veteran team, Team Hunt crossed first in a time of 2:37:01.
There had been stiff competition on the run with great efforts put in by Chris Stansell for the Ariki Adventures team, Greg Gustafson for the Tikioki Flyers and Matt Wyatt for Dean’s Team.
The second team across the line was the Tikioki Flyers in 2:39:32 followed by third place getters Dean’s Team 2:44:58, and Ariki Adventures the first team in the open division in 2:47:12.
Only a few minutes later the local junior team, Ara Wyatt, Olivia Postrygacz and Edmund Postrygacz crossed the line.
These three youngsters are all aged 13 and under and performed superbly well to beat many adults and show everyone that they have the fortitude and composure to race competitively at a very young age.
Our congratulations to them and all our athletes.
The day was not just celebrated by the first across the line, but also by the many age group athletes.
It was awesome to see the strength of the locals with Maya Postrygacz, Maria Rolleston, Adrianna Skurosz, Lucy McDonald, Roland Neururer and Mike Carr all winning their respective individual age groups against their international competitors.
Nick Carter on 11/05/2023
The 12th paragraph is incorrect...it states that Carl Ritchie was holding off challenge from various people incl local youngster Seychelle Carter. It was actually local youngster Seychelle Carter who held them all off, and she was second out of the water behind Olivia Ritchie.