Triathletes aiming for fun times
Story by: Peter Gibbs / Nelson Mail - Photo by: Marc Palmano - Shuttersport
The Nelson Mail Team Triathlon is a chance for beginners to get a taste for the sport in a cheerful atmosphere.
Even the more experienced triathletes look forward to the sociable side of racing as part of a team.
Yet team racing often brings out the best in people. You want to have a good time, but you don't want to let the side down, so everyone tries their hardest.
We try to pretend that it's the taking part that counts, yet most of us can't quite disable the competitive switch.
So, with apologies to those I underestimate or don't know the full potential of, here are my picks for the various categories, taken from entries received by yesterday morning.
A prize of $2000 worth of Nelson Mail advertising is a powerful lure for a small business, and Mi-gym seems to have the upper hand, despite the unavailability of Trevor Voyce, who has returned triumphant but injured from the World Adventure Racing Series in Patagonia in Argentina.
Kim Hogarth, Lynley Coventry and Nigel Burgess should be more than a handful for the opposition, although the Sealord team of Roger Matheson, Brian Mills and Wayne Leighton will be pushing them along.
The Shoe Clinic Mates category will be very competitive. Don't bet against Blueberryit – Henry and Frankie Kersten with Ed Rimmer. They're among the most competitive athletes you can find, and will be keen on winning a new pair of shoes each.
They'll have their work cut out holding off Follow This, as Nigel Burgess doubles up, leading out Pogo McAuley and Jon Linyard.
The dark horses could be the R and R team of Ingrid Richter, Josh Findlay and Helen Chittenden.
In the mix near the front will be two combinations who qualify as senior teams, with a total age exceeding 165.
World swim champion Ben Van Dyke leads out from Malcolm Anderson, a top swimmer who is also a good all-rounder, with John Hellemans as anchor. Hellemans competed at world elite level into his 40s and has since won multiple world age group triathlon titles, so he'll come home strong.
Up against them will be Wayne Leighton, also doubling up before competing for his Sealord team, Bill Revell and Ned Smith. Leighton is a vastly experienced triathlete who's been to many world championships, Revell is a top runner and strong swimmer and cyclist, and Smith has just entered the 60-64 ranks, taking the silver medal at the national sprint champs a few weeks ago.
It's a male-dominated category, but there'll be a prize for the first all-women's team in the race, and that could well be Jude Vincent, Eileen Kelly and Eileen Searle, racing as Tasman Gold Mermaids.
For more than two decades, it's seemed that Nelson has been nurturing top teen athletes who have gone on to make a mark nationally and internationally, the most recent being Harrison Dean and Flossie Van Dyke.
Coming through the ranks now are some strong talents, still maturing physically, but with good signs of things to come.
Eight teams have entered the Avanti Plus School category. Top prospects are Luke Kelly, Hayden Squance and Josh Barry. Expect Kelly, who's a top swimmer, to come out of the water in the first wave alongside the elite teams and hold his place for as long as he can.
The all-girl combination of Louise Kelly, Brooke Matheson and Madisen Stanley will test many of their male counterparts.
Wendy Healey, Gillian McDougall and Toni Charles are expected to dominate the Wildside Walkers division.
With $1500 on the line for the overall winning elite team, there were hopes that some teams from outside the region would be on the start line. However, news of the Hellemans-coached Dutch squad, who have been in residence here over summer, seems to have intimidated the opposition.
So it should. They're fearsome competitors, especially the diminutive Rachel Klamer, who chased home New Zealand's top Olympic hopeful and leader in the world rankings, Andrea Hewitt, in a sprint race in Wanaka in January. Giving away only four seconds on the line, Klamer went on to repeat the feat at the national sprint championships in Kinloch a few weeks later, this time with the same margin behind former world mountain running champion turned triathlete Kate McIlroy.
Danne Boterenbrood was a further six seconds behind in third, while Maaike Caelers took sixth.
In the men's race in Kinloch, Jan Van Berkel also missed the top spot by four seconds, while Marco Van Der Stel was 15th in a strong field.
Not all the Dutch triathletes are available, so in a compromise to make a good race, two combinations have been formed with local talent.
Britain's Tom Curtis will lead off the 'European' team
Nelson teacher Jon Linyard kicks off a team with Klamer and Van Berkel, seemingly unstoppable on paper. British triathlete Tom Curtis will lead off the other team, and he'll be aiming to break away and give a lead to Sarissa De Vries and their anchor, Van Der Stel. With legal drafting on the bike, the race will be tactical, but any of the competitors could snap the rubber band during the three-lap run section.
Racing starts at 8.30am at the launching ramp in Akersten St. Details at teamtri.co.nz.