25 Mar 2009"Winners: Ryan Sissons and Lena Brunkhorst"
25 Mar 2009"Winners: Ryan Sissons and Lena Brunkhorst"
The finale in the 2XU Compression Stroke & Stride Series for the summer carries extra weight. The event is the New Zealand swimrun Championship for 2009 as well as the crucial decider for those chasing glory in the series competition. We have never had a Stroke & Stride this late in March however that didn’t mean we couldn’t have another of those stunning blue sky summer days. Just for a change there was no wind booked for the afternoon resulting in near perfect conditions for fast racing, barring the occasional complaint about sun strike.
The championship swimrun distances use a ratio of 1 to 4 to give a balanced athlete an equal amount of time in the water and out on the road. The swim was 1000 metres and therefore the run 4 kilometres. Through the swim the men’s field made good time and were holding straight lines as they circumnavigated the big triangle. Certainly the prime conditions helped and just 11 minutes and 20 seconds after the gun Brent Foster was back on the beach with Stefan Talbot and Lee Greer still holding on to the sports premier swimmer. This trio had a half minute advantage over the chasing bunch that was headed by Glen Gore, Alex Smith and Mark Bowstead and which soon extended into a rush of swimmers with James Upton 12 minutes 4 seconds and Liam Scopes 12 minutes 34 seconds mixed in amongst it all.
Ten minutes later the women’s field were following exactly the same course and Teresa Adam was out on her own and lead them home in a time exactly a minute slower than the fastest guy. This in turn was the same half a minute advantage over her chasers, Lena Brunkhorst and Simone Ackermann. Where the script did vary was the large gaps between the strung out women’s field by the time they came to exit the water.
Four kilometers of running takes you down past Kohimarama to the turn cone at the start of St Heliers Bay. No wind to speak of, only one turn and certainly no hills so this run course is made for speed and this speed is required to be turned up as soon as you’re exiting transition. Brent Foster knows how to do this better than anyone and he’d soon dropped his swimming companions as he led the field through the first couple of kilometers. However there was some serious talent tracking him. All through the 2008/2009 summer Ryan Sissons has displayed blistering leg speed and once again it was his ace card as he blasted past everyone to secure the lead, take the win, those valuable points and the coveted title of New Zealand Champion – not too bad for 25 minutes of intense effort. Brent Foster runs home for another second place that seems to be the story of his season, all this fine weather and flat water we’ve enjoyed may not be to his liking. James Upton’s rock-solid season continues with a classy third ahead of Alex Smith saving his best for last with his best Stroke & Stride result ever. You know you’re going well when you can finish ahead of two time winner Liam Scopes who this time was settling for fifth place.
Teresa Adam has got herself on the podium every time she has raced this season however she is yet to get on that top step. Perhaps the 30 second lead she had in hand at the start of today’s run would be sufficient to secure the win. Lena Brunkhorst and Simone Ackermann looked all business as they set off in pursuit with Sophie Corbidge also displaying good leg speed as she disappeared down the road. By the halfway mark the writing was on the wall; while everyone was running fast, Germany’s Lena Brunkhorst was flying and she was soon in front and no one was staying close to her. The return to St Heliers decided that this year’s New Zealand swimrun Champion is Lena Brunkhorst with a consummate performance on the water and out on the road. Teresa Adam gets home in second, the first of the kiwis. Sophie Corbidge is always a threat in these events snaring the remaining podium spot ahead of Simone Ackermann and Tanya Dromgool.
Simone Ackermann has dominated this year’s Series from Race #1. Through the early rounds she was untouchable giving her a sizeable lead and removing the pressure for the later rounds and allowing her to win the Stroke & Stride Cup for the first time. The only real challenger was Teresa Adam however the lack of a win or two meant she was always playing catch up, not that there is anything wrong with second place in the Stroke & Stride Series. Lena Brunkhorst didn’t start her racing until the second half of the season and soon went from being most improved to untouchable by the later rounds finishing the series in third. A fabulous debut season got the youngster Maddie Dillon up into fourth place overall 11 points ahead of Sarah Jack.
Interesting that the two guys that dominated the competition this season both missed race number one but from the second race it was game on between the young Ryan Sissons and the slightly more senior Brent Foster. Contrasting styles of racing made for an intriguing competition between these two warriors however victory in the final two races gave the Stroke & Stride championship to a deserving Ryan Sissons. The valiant Brent Foster finds himself in an unaccustomed second place this year unlike the 14 years where he has been top dog. Consistency rewards James Upton with the lucrative third spot while Liam Scopes owes his fourth to a couple of outstanding wins through the season. Alex Smith and Michael Poole have been scuffling all summer long and just one point is the difference as they close out the top 5.
Sam Franklin AUS
Glen Gore RSA
Leon Drajer ARG
Tomas Mocek CZE
Lena Brunkhorst GER
Sophie Corbidge GBR
Barbarah Igreja BRA