24 Jan 2002"Winners: Nicole Cope and Szabolcs A'Goston"

  • St Helier's Bay
  • |
  • Swim: 750 metre
  • |
  • Run: 4 kilometre

The wind of change was blowing at Race #5 in the Reesby & Company Stroke & Stride. To start with we saw the most user-friendly conditions the competitors have faced all season and at the end of the day a brand new pair of victors atop the podium. After the arduous wind and waves encountered at the early season races it was smiles all round on the start line at the start of the 750 metre swim leg with not a white cap in sight. The women’s field were started ten minutes in front of the men and when the horn was sounded a second time to start the men it coincided exactly with Rebecca Nesbitt exiting the water to begin her run up the beach and into transition.

Forty seconds back was that dynamic duo of 1997 Series Champion Debbie Tanner and the 2000 New Zealand Swim/Run Champion Kirsty Whiting followed in by Leigh Webster and Caroline Collard. Making the most of the perfect swim conditions was the much-feared Nicole Cope who finished runner up in last season’s Series Grand Prix but hadn’t recorded a win since November 2000. Time for a change as Nicole backed up her strong swim with a lightening transition and then the fastest run of the day to seize the victory seconds ahead of Kirsty Whiting who was just in front of Debbie Tanner at the finish. Once again Vanessa Palmer just missed out on a podium finish with another fourth but she did hold out the fast finishing Julia Scopes.

Top New Zealand distance swimmer Craig Stewart demonstrated just how good he is by leading the men’s field around the buoys and had only Brent Foster in tow at swim’s end. Trailing these two were the Hungarian pair, Szabolcs A’Goston and Csaba Kuttor and then it was Scott Larsen and Dean Foster all finishing the swim in less than 10 minutes. The winner would be decided over the 4 kilometre run to Mission Bay and return. Szabolcs A’Goston had taken third place in the previous two events but he had learnt his lessons well and for this race he was in a classroom of his own as he recorded the fastest run split, passed the handful of guys in front of him and ran through for a comfortable win. Stroke & Stride events have always attracted strong international athletes but you need to go right back to 1995 for the last time an international athlete has headed the men’s field. The Kiwi that has done the most to deny the internationals, and everyone else for that matter, a win is current Series Champion Brent Foster who on this occasion had to settle for second place just holding out Csaba Kuttor. Scott Larsen has progressed well through the season and he had his best finish ever in fourth ahead of the well-known surf life saving competitor, Ariki Pearson.

At the business end of the season every point becomes crucial in the battle to decide the Series Champion in the Series Grand Prix and how the final dollars will be distributed. With five different winners from five starts the women’s competition is delicately poised with Kirsty Whiting now at the top of the table just one point ahead of Vanessa Palmer. Only four points adrift is Debbie Tanner so it is looking likely that these three will contest the top spot. Brent Foster has put up an outstanding defence of his title in the early races but will still need to be on guard against challenges from Szabolcs A’Goston, Scott Larsen and Bevan Docherty over the final three events. Final points are decided from Race #8 and five other races and prize money is paid down to eighth place.



Szabolcs A’Goston        HUN

23m 08s


Brent Foster

23 30


Csaba Kuttor        HUN

23 39


Scott Larsen

24 37


Ariki Pearson

24 49


Dean Foster

24 54


Liam Scopes

24 59


Brent Sheldrake

25 08


Gary Brown

25 16


Carl Cairns

25 25


Henry Barfoot

25 45


Craig Stewart

26 42


Dino Bozzone

26 45


Alexander Durst        USA

27 03


Richard Harding

27 09



Nicole Cope

26m 39s


Kirsty Whiting

26 46


Debbie Tanner

26 52


Vanessa Palmer

27 41


Julia Scopes

28 18


Leigh Webster

28 30


Rebecca Nesbitt

28 43


Abigail Wroe

28 51


Carmel Hanly

29 38


Jantje Slange        NED

30 19


Sonia Bracegirdle

30 42


Caroline Collard

34 25

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