14 Mar 2006"Winners: Shane Reed and Carmel Hanly"
14 Mar 2006"Winners: Shane Reed and Carmel Hanly"
Heading into the season finale both the athletes leading the Series Grand Prix had built healthy leads. Carmel Hanly had a seven point gap over her closest rivals while Shane Reed was 14 points clear of the defending Series champion Brent Foster. The question was whether these two would now race conservatively, keep an eye on the opposition and just do enough to take the titles or attack the course and go for the win.
Race #8 in the Structured Finance sponsored Stroke & Stride Series doubles as the New Zealand SWIMRUN Championship for 2006 giving even more weight and importance to this final duel on the waterfront. The large crowd assembled were treated to picture perfect conditions as Auckland City laid on a sparkling day with plenty of sunshine and warmth around for late summer. Even Auckland’s perennial afternoon wind decided to puts its feet and watch the event once race time arrived leaving the sea smooth and the run course fast.
The men’s field were underway with a bang over the big 1000 metre triangular course and by the time the first buoy was reached one swimmer had moved clear of the field. An elapsed time of 11 minutes and 36 seconds saw Brent Foster touch the shore holding a 16 second lead over the Shane Reed with Ben Visser on his toes. Then came the stretched out train of chasers lead in by Matt Burbury-King in 12 minutes and 5 seconds and including James Upton, Sam Walker, Matt Burgess, Andrew Mackay, Robbie Baff, Liam Scopes, Thomas Hahn and Dean Foster.
While the men got into their running and jockeyed for their final placings it was the women’s field churning up the waters on their swim. At the front it was Rebecca Clarke with an outstanding swim opening up a 19 second lead to hit the beach in 13 minutes and 3 seconds. Next to arrive was Rebecca Hooper followed by Carmel Hanly, Marisa Carter, Belinda Harper, Anna Elvery, Jacqui Seebold, Simone Ackermann, Vanessa Palmer and then Anna Hamilton with a time of 14 minutes 22 seconds.
Brent Foster’s game plan over the past 14 seasons has never changed, exert pressure on the swim leg and then don’t surrender any of those gains out on the run course. This has worked to perfection time after time over the years, obvious with his registering more than 50 victories. However this season Shane Reed has been able to limit those time losses on the water and then employ his crushing leg speed out on the road to edge past Fozzie to take out five of the seven events this season. It’s now time to update the record to show Shane winning his sixth race of the season as he again squeezes past Brent Foster on the run to win one more Stroke & Stride and successfully defend his New Zealand SWIMRUN Championship title. In the wake of these two was Ben Visser and Sam Walker locked in their own battle for third place until Sam Walker ran clear in the final kilometre to fill the other podium position. Liam Scopes completed his fine season nabbing fifth place.
Two weeks ago current Series leader Carmel Hanly stamped her authority on the women’s field with a resounding victory. Backing up a strong swim this time out she utilized exactly the same strategy surging to the front early in the run and then continuing to press the pace right to the finish line. No one can match Carmel Hanly when she’s in this form as she records her third win of the season by a generous margin and captures the New Zealand SWIMRUN title as bonus. Anna Hamilton is a fine runner also and while her run couldn’t make any inroads on first place it was enough for her to overtake all the others ahead of her out of transition and give her a great second placing to finish the season. Saving her best result for the last race gave Rebecca Hooper a brilliant podium finish in third ahead of Jacqui Seebold and Rebecca Clarke.
The Series Grand Prix decides the overall Stroke & Stride champions with points awarded through the Series. To win these trophies a competitor needs to have a large share of athletic prowess and just as importantly the consistency to perform fortnightly over those five long months of summer. One is also required to beat home all those other outstanding athletes frantically vying for the prize. With a few seasons under her belt Carmel Hanly (2nd, 2nd, 1st, 4th, 1st & 1st) took her game to a new level this season and is rewarded with the deserved title of Stroke & Stride Champion for the summer. Having her first serious tilt at the Series ended up producing an amazing result for Anna Hamilton (3rd, 4th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd & 2nd) in the overall runner up position. Defending Champion Samantha Warriner (1st, 1st, 1st & 1st) started as she’d ended last season and still managed to hang on for third on points ahead of Anna Elvery (7th, 5th, 5th, 6th, 4th & 6th) Simone Ackermann (6th, 7th, 6th, 9th, 3rd & 8th) Jacqui Seebold (4th, 7th, 8th, 7th & 4th) Debbie Tanner (2nd, 3rd & 1st) and Rebecca Hooper (12th, 8th, 10th, 8th, 6th & 3rd) who made up the top 8 and took home all the Series prize money.
It is seldom we see a new Men’s Champion at Stroke & Stride however this season Shane Reed (1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st & 1st) made sure that it was his name being engraved on the Stroke & Stride Cup and with that record who would argue. Behind our worthy winner was the man that has been the dominant force at Stroke & Stride for longer than some of our competitors have been alive, Brent Foster (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd & 2nd) may have let his guard slip slightly this year however beating this guy home in a SWIMRUN event is still close to impossible. Making all the running in the early season was James Upton (2nd, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th) and his form was good enough through the back half of the Series to earn the third place on the podium. The remaining top 8 money positions went to Liam Scopes (4th, 2nd, 5th, 2nd, 3rd & 5th) Sam Walker (4th, 3rd, 5th & 3rd) Thomas Hahn (8th, 8th, 8th 8th, 6th & 9th) Ben Visser (5th, 3rd, 8th & 4th) and Ryan Sissons (7th, 6th, 9th, 12th, 10th & 12th).
Luc Van Es NED