Double winner becomes outsider



Danielle McKenzie is already a double winner at the Thermatech 3D Rotorua Multisport Festival but the odds of her adding a third title next week are decidedly slim.

The reason isn’t because of ambition or ability – more the fact the 19-year-old surf lifesaving star will be competing in multisport’s open ranks for the first time.

McKenzie’s previous wins at the 3D Festival have come in the 25km race against the top juniors in the country. She won twice, in 2011 and 2012, nearly heading off all her male secondary school rivals as well the second time.

But next week she’ll step up in distance to the 50km feature race, which doubles as the New Zealand senior multisport championship. She will be the underdog in a field that includes seasoned competitors Elina Ussher, Rotorua local Nic Leary and Christchurch-based Dane Sia Svendsen.

“I loved the 25km grassroots race,” said the former Rangitoto College student.

“Especially with the stunning mountain bike leg but I’ve always wanted to come back and race the main event. It fits well with my schedule this year although I may not have done a lot of race-specific training, I had another good surf season and I’m hoping that will at least get me through.”

The talented Mairangi Bay lifeguard captured the open board title at the New Zealand surf lifesaving championships. She also proved longer distances are to her liking by winning December’s inaugural Mount Monster, a 25km ocean-based ironman race along the Mount Maunganui coast.

And while her main upcoming focus will be on September’s world surf lifesaving championships in France, she is buzzing about getting back on to the 3D start-line.

“I’ve got no expectations this year because my last multisport race was while I was at school and this will definitely be the longest race I’ve done so far but I’m super-keen for it, especially going up against the likes of Elina Ussher and Nic Leary,” she said. “I love multi-discipline racing, whether it be in the surf or in this kind of thing, and it’s definitely something I want to focus more on in future.”