Nobody knows the single-track trails of Rotorua like Nic Leary, although the hometown favourite needed every bit of her nous to claim today’s New Zealand multisport championships.
The 30-year-old became the first-ever local winner of the 50km feature race at the Thermatech 3D Rotorua Multisport Festival, with the Rotorua physiotherapist out-dueling two-time winner Elina Ussher to finish in 3hrs 10mins 12secs.
With surf lifesaver Danielle McKenzie blowing the field away in the opening 9km kayak on Tikitapu, Leary relied heavily on her mountain biking experience to claw back the deficit, before out-gunning Nelson’s Ussher on the run.
“Danielle smoked it at the start and I didn’t even get a glimpse of her,” Leary said. “When I jumped out of the boat and they said I was seven and half minutes down, I thought she was gone. I could see Elina ahead of me but I knew I had a lot of work to do. I was catching a lot of guys on the bike but didn’t know if I was going well or not until I caught up with Elina. We hit the run together and I’ve never out-run her before but today I felt really good.”
So good, in fact, that by the end of the 11km run, she’d put more than 3mins on Ussher, who couldn’t add to the titles she won at the 2011 and 2012 editions of the event.
Auckland’s Emma McCosh cruised home comfortably in third, posting 3:20:41, while 19-year-old McKenzie – though she couldn’t maintain her valiant early charge – was still good enough to hold onto fourth in 3:26:47.
The men’s race was far closer, with Australian Jarad Kohlar needing a last-kilometre kick to get in front of Nelson’s Trevor Voyce.
Kohlar had a memorable day, falling out of his kayak near the end of the first leg and losing a drink bottle on the mountain bike but he held his composure and had enough to withstand Voyce’s challenge.
“I was running a bit dry at the end but sat on Trevor’s heels for the last lap and put the pressure on up the final little hill,” Kohlar, who was third in the 2011 race, said. “I’m pretty happy to win because the standard is so high on this side of the Tasman.”
The 31-year-old crossed in 2:46:08, with Voyce finishing just 27secs back, keeping his streak going after finishing fourth in 2012 and third last year. With Kohlar ineligible, Voyce also claimed the New Zealand multisport title.
“I had a good ride with Jarad and felt pretty consistent on the run,” Voyce said. “I didn’t do anything special and it was my strongest performance at 3D, although I’m definitely gutted I couldn’t get Jarad near the end. He had a great burst of speed and deserved to win.”
Whakatane’s Sam Clark made all the early pace with a slick kayak and a solid mountain bike but a niggling groin injury returned to haunt him on the run. He eventually finished fifth, behind young guns Sam Manson (Hawke’s Bay) and Rotorua triathlete Ollie Shaw.
Bay of Plenty pair Lewis Ryan and Lydia Hale, meanwhile, wrapped up the titles in the 25km grassroots multisport race.
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For full results, visit www.3drotorua.co.nz
Men: Jarad Kohlar (Australia) 2hrs 46mins 8secs 1, Trevor Voyce (Nelson) 2:46:35 2, Sam Manson (Hawke’s Bay) 2:52:47 3, Ollie Shaw (Rotorua) 2:54:14 4, Sam Clark (Whakatane) 2:58:42 5, Hamish Fleming (Wellington) 2:58:52 6, Rob Creasy (Cambridge) 3:01:57 7, David Blundell (Auckland) 3:03:41 8, Peter O’Sullivan (Palmerston North) 3:05:36 9, Travis Mitchell (Mairangi Bay) 3:06:41 10.
Women: Nic Leary (Rotorua) 3:10:12 1, Elina Ussher (Nelson) 3:13:11 2, Emma McCosh (Auckland) 3:20:41 3, Danielle McKenzie (Mairangi Bay) 3:26:47 4, Sia Svendsen (Christchurch) 3:41:12 5.