22 Feb 2005"Winners: Anja Dittmer & Shane Reed"
22 Feb 2005"Winners: Anja Dittmer & Shane Reed"
The penultimate event in the Stroke & Stride Series is vital for those chasing glory in the Series Grand Prix with the finishing straight now in sight. Those that started well are at this point looking to consolidate their lead and at the same time prevent their competition grabbing maximum points while others use the back half of the season to make a late charge for the title. However this is also the time of year when the internationals are in town. These globe-trotting campaigners are only too happy to mix it up with the regulars and get their hands on the prize money plus any Grand Prix points on offer will be chucked in the bag along with the air points they earned getting to New Zealand. All of this was discernible to the large crowd gathered at Race #7 of the Structured Finance sponsored Stroke & Stride Series. Our spectacular season continues as Auckland had laid on another splendid summer’s day with a bit of sunshine and a bit of wind, this wind was from the northeast and chopped up the swim course although it was not to prove a major factor in the race.
The women’s field were the first to start in this race and at the half way point of the 750 metre swim one athlete had opened up a buffer of a couple of body lengths over the chasing pack. When the men’s starting hooter was sounded exactly 10 minutes behind the women coincidentally our race leader was taking her first step on the beach giving Germany’s Anja Dittmer a swim time of 10 minutes flat and a more than useful 19 second lead back to that chasing posse lead in by Samantha Warriner and including Carmel Hanly, Anna Elvery and Sarah Pattison.
Reigning Series champ, Brent Foster was back in charge of the swim for this event however out and around the cans he had one dogged pursuer that refused to drop back more than a couple of seconds. Even Fozzie’s famed acceleration over the closing 100 metres didn’t seem to make much of an impact and he recorded 8min 37sec as hit the beach and ran through transition. Just six seconds back was Shane Reed, a prolific international athlete who has racked up victories all around the globe and crossed the ditch for this contest. Could all this experience be translated into a win at his debut Stroke & Stride? Behind our leading duo was a large pack trailing by nearly half a minute and stacked with talent including Japan’s Hirokatsu Tayama, New Plymouth’s Ben Riley and Clark Ellice, Hong Kong’s Daniel Lee and Auckland locals James Elvery, Carl Cairns and Andrew Mackay.
Heading out onto the 5 kilometre run Samantha Warriner had just one thing on her mind; catch the leading Anja Dittmer. As the kilometres were counted off on the way to Mission Bay and return she slowly reeled in Anja Dittmer who had ran away with the victory the previous fortnight. Into the final kilometre it was in fact Samantha Warriner now in front with Anja Dittmer trailing by just a metre. However in the final few hundred metres it was Anja Dittmer’s turn to up the ante as she unleashed a powerful surge to reclaim the lead which she held to the line recording another fine victory. Samantha Warriner’s fastest run split didn’t get her the win she had sought though still got her the valuable second place and more of those precious points. The only athlete remotely in touch with the two out front was Carmel Hanly finishing in third place equalling her best result of the season. Nicole Cope’s defence of her title continues with a fourth placing while Anna Elvery had her best finish of the summer scoring a notable fifth place.
Brent Foster’s defence of his title wasn’t going as he would have planned as it wasn’t long after he left transition that fleet-footed Shane Reed joined him at the front of the field. These two couldn’t pause to chat as not too far back a couple of greyhounds were looking to peg them back. Shane Reed soon left Fozzie behind as he kicked clear and attempted to make his lead insurmountable. The big movers out on the run course were revealed to be Clark Ellice and Daniel Lee as they first overhauled Brent Foster and then set off in pursuit of Shane Reed. If all those years of racing in every corner of the globe has taught Shane Reed one thing then that’s how to protect a lead. This he demonstrated with aplomb running up the beach to the line for an exceptional first up victory holding out fast finishing Clark Ellice by six seconds with Daniel Lee only another few seconds back. Brent Foster wasn’t coming home in first at this race but he was still good enough on the day to claim fourth place ahead of the Japanese Olympian Hirokatsu Tayama.
The big question now is would Brent Foster’s fourth placing garner him enough points to secure another Stroke & Stride championship over hard-charging Clark Ellice? That question won’ be answered for another two weeks; right now Brent Foster on 93 points has a tenuous at best 2 point lead over Clark Ellice in the midst of his golden season. Watch for these two to keep throwing punches right up till the final bell in a fortnight’s time. Further back and realistically unlikely to challenge for the lead are James Elvery, Sam Walker and Liam Scopes but they have enough to occupy themselves with in their scrap for third. Fortunately the money goes right down to eighth place so Tom Hahn, Daniel Lee and William Curtayne can all afford a smile going into the Series finale.
Our 2003/2004 Series Champion Samantha Warriner is now looking a good bet to reclaim her title with a 16 point lead over previous Series Champ Debbie Tanner and another point back to Nicole Cope. However the final in a fortnight will still decide it and continued good form is an absolute necessity for all. Carmel Hanly appears secure in her bid for a top 5 in the Series with only the formidable Anja Dittmer likely to cause further ructions as she continues her assault on the lead. Anna Elvery, Vanessa Palmer and Kirsty Whiting currently hold the other valuable top 8 places with only five points separation so watch this space.
Daniel Lee HKG
Hirokatsu Tayama JPN
Marius Acker RSA
Anja Dittmer GER