This is a race with a difference, and with a couple of dozen male entrants still chatting on the bank when the hooter sounded, you could be forgiven for thinking the after party had already begun. Still, they all made it hastily in the water and the women's race started more smoothly 5 minutes later.
Blue Lake is not fed by snow melt and is ideally suited for racing early in the season with the water temperature already up around 20degC. Last year the swim course had to be modified at the last minute and was a couple of hundred metres too short. This year the swim times suggested the course was more accurate, or possibly slightly longer than it should have been.
Keegan Williams who finished second at last weekend's Taupo half Ironman was one of the leaders out onto the bike and he quickly opened up a gap on the hilly cycle out to Lake Rotoma and back. This gave him a 5 minute lead over strong cyclist Paul Leitch and defending champion Jeremy Boyd, with former New Zealand Triathlon Champion Brodie Madgwick lurking as well.
Leitch couldn't maintain the pace on the run as Boyd and Madgwick set off after Williams who stayed away until the second lap of the lake 6km from the end. Williams could not hold off Madgwick, but stayed ahead of Boyd as the first three finished within a couple of minutes of each other. Leitch and Philip Morreau sprinted for 4th place and first veteran with Leitch taking it by the smallest of margins.
Madgwick called this the biggest win of his career, obviously rating it ahead of his 2004 New Zealand Triathlon Championship title which he won when that race was converted to a duathlon due to high winds making swimming too dangerous. The last couple of years has seen Madwick in the UK doing his big 'OE', and has only recently started getting "back into it".
The UK connection was to continue in the women's race with now Rotorua local Amanda Westwood showing her running prowess overcoming a 6 minute deficit to German import Celia Kuch who had been impressive on the bike.
As in the men's race the lead had changed throughout the race. Megan Stewart led onto the bike but soon succumbed to Kuch. But, like Williams before Kuch had no answer as Westwood stormed through with Napier's Annika Edmonson taking out third.
However this is a race for the people and the athletes streamed in over the next four hours, with many a tale to tell. This race is renowned for its after party, and this year was no exception for those to who were able to stay out and party late into the night.
Thank you, Shane Hooks.
Results Rotorua Half Ironman 15 December 2007
Women under 40The photos below courtesy of Arthur Hiscock at picasaweb.google.com/rotovegas.half
1 Amanda Westwood Rotorua 0:35:18 2:45:19 1:35:53 4:56:31
2 Celia Kuch Auckland 0:33:54 2:41:05 1:46:44 5:01:45
3 Annika EdmondsonNapier 0:33:23 2:48:26 1:42:49 5:04:38
4 Meagan Stewart Auckland 0:29:49 2:55:49 1:47:36 5:13:15
5 Kristie Weenink Nelson 0:32:33 2:52:34 2:00:23 5:25:31
Women over 40
1 Julia Cree Auckland 0:31:34 2:57:37 1:51:13 5:20:25
2 Janice Mccallum Hawera 0:42:37 3:07:27 1:43:00 5:33:05
3 Lucy Brown Auckland 0:31:42 2:58:43 2:03:48 5:34:14
Men under 40
1 Brodie Madgwick Te Aroha 0:29:29 2:30:04 1:23:08 4:22:42
2 Keegan Williams Hamilton 0:28:17 2:26:10 1:30:26 4:24:53
3 Jeremy Boyd Wellington 0:30:49 2:28:52 1:25:40 4:25:22
4 Kevin Nicholson Lower Hutt 0:33:44 2:37:13 1:31:25 4:42:23
5 James Doust Auckland 0:34:47 2:33:15 1:36:45 4:44:47
Men over 40
1 Paul Leitch Auckland 0:32:56 2:26:34 1:40:01 4:39:31
2 Philip Morreau Auckland 0:31:39 2:36:30 1:31:21 4:39:31
3 David Craig Wellington 0:32:47 2:40:22 1:31:54 4:45:04
Before the start...
One of the most scenic bike courses in new Zealand
Brodie Madgwick heading into T2 with a 5 minute deficit
Brodie Madgwick taking the title
The old men race it out with Paul Leitch out muscling Philip Morreau
Amanda Westwood swooped on the run to clean up the women's field
Post race satisfaction as athletes cool their tired legs