Blink and you'll miss triathletes in action
Story by: Peter Gibbs / Nelson Mail - Photo by: Marc Palmano - Shuttersport
If you're stepping out of Nelson's Elma Turner Library any time after 12.30pm tomorrow, look both ways.
Some of the world's top triathletes will be belting by at race pace – that's about 20kmh. They'll be on the first leg of an event that includes a 2.5km run, a 1km swim and another 2.5km run.
Better still, get down to Rutherford Park and watch the start of the Nelson Mail Aquathlon National Championships.
From the gun at 12.30pm, expect Nelson's Harrison Dean, England club champion Tom Curtis and Dutch triathlon squad member Marco Van der Stel to go toe-to-toe on the run course up Paru Paru Rd, along Halifax St and down past Trafalgar Park. The leaders will come into view as they cross the QEII Drive bridge, head around behind the Trafalgar Centre, then race for their swim caps.
The 2.5km run will take less than eight minutes, so it will pay not to blink.
Competitors will then swim two laps of a 500m circuit under the QEII bridge, the Trafalgar Park footbridge and back to the start, before repeating the 2.5km run.
Close behind the lead men will be Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands. Klamer pushed New Zealand's world champion Andrea Hewitt right to the line in Wanaka a few weeks ago, then did the same with New Zealand squad member Kate McIlroy at the national sprint championships in Kinloch last weekend.
Klamer is raising eyebrows with her recent exploits and will be anxious to nail the top spot ahead of compatriots Danne Boterenbrood, who finished a close third last weekend, and Maaike Caelers, who was sixth.
Determined to upset the Dutch trio will be Nelson's Flossie Van Dyke, recently returned from overseas and possibly a little behind on training. Van Dyke was the overall winner of the age group race in last year's Triathlon NZ national champs over the Olympic distance and has a point to prove at home, although "home" is a relative term – the Dutch team have been in residence in Nelson for the past few months with their coach, John Hellemans.
Hellemans himself is a legend in the sport. From elite competition right into his 40s, he has continued to amass world age group triathlon titles ever since.
He'll be keen to add the aquathlon gold medal in M55-59 to his collection. Nelson's Bill Revell should match him in the run, but Hellemans is a mean swimmer.
An intriguing matchup in F30-34 is that between top-ranked adventure racer Fleur Lattimore and Nelson swim star Kirstin Ramsay. Will Lattimore's speed on the run be enough to hold off Ramsay, one of the country's top swimmers?
I'll be competing in M60-64, and in any other competition of this sort, I'd rate my chances. Not so this time.
On the one hand, there's Ben Van Dyke. A multiple gold medal winner in world swim champs, he regularly defies his 61 years to finish in the top 10 in the Port Nelson sea swim series.
On the other there's Ned Smith, a speedy runner and Californian entrepreneur who with wife Mina has recently made Nelson home, celebrating with a silver medal and New Zealand team selection last weekend in Kinloch.
M16-17 will see matchups between top Nelson swimmers Kaiori McGuinniety, Jack Thornton and Francesco Cheruseo and runner Josh Barry.