(Blue Lake, Rotorua)- Braden Currie and Suzie Snyder captured the 13th annual Paymark XTERRA New Zealand Championship on a beautiful blue sky day at Blue Lake in Rotorua this afternoon.
Early morning rain and cloud cover made way to bright sunshine by the time the race started at 11am but left behind slick and muddy conditions that made a technical bike course even more so.
In the men's race Currie led early with the second-fastest swim split of the day, just two-seconds by Sam Osborne, and had the lead on the bike until about halfway when local favorite Olly Shaw from Rotorua came storming past.
“Sam and Olly were just killing it on the single track. It was slick out there and a lot of mud so some real challenging riding,” said Currie.
Shaw, who posted the fastest bike split of the day (1:11:01) had roughly 30-seconds on Currie heading out on to the run but that wasn't enough. Currie got past Shaw about three-kilometers into the run and was in cruise control until he caught a glimpse of a hard-charging Osborne towards the end.
“I was really lucky to see Sam because he was flying,” said Currie of Osborne, who had the fastest run of the day (40:40) to finish in second place just 13-seconds behind Currie. It was the closest finish in recent memory, made all the more dramatic as Osborne collapsed in exhaustion at the line.
“This is the most rewarding win I’ve had in a few years," said Currie. "I haven’t been racing here because there has always been an adventure race in China on the same weekend and I’ve wanted to win this one since I started racing XTERRA, so I’m stoked to have got it. It’s an awesome race. It’s short, it's fast, and it hurts."
Shaw held on for third, with Aiden Dunster and Josh Kenyon rounding out the top five.
Conrad Stoltz, the defending champ and XTERRA’s all-time wins’ leader, was a race morning scratch after coming down with a bug on the flight over.
“I was gutted to pull. My form is good and this event is world-class. The core of athletes here is incredible and the trails are so challenging and unique. The nature here with the huge tree furns is just amazing,” said Stoltz, who stuck around and helped the announcing team describe the day’s action as it happened.
|1||Braden Currie, NZL||2:06:24|
|2||Sam Osborne, NZL||2:06:37|
|3||Olly Shaw, NZL||2:07:59|
|4||Aiden Dunster, NZL||2:15:55|
|5||Josh Kenyon, NZL||2:16:37|
|6||Sam Clark, NZL||2:16:50|
|7||Kieran McPherson, NZL||2:18:07|
|8||Dirk Peters, NZL||2:21:50|
|9||Cameron Paul, NZL||2:22:04|
|10||Mitchell Ginsberg, NZL||2:23:17|
In the women’s elite race Suzie Snyder’s victory was 12 years in the making. The XTERRA veteran had lots of big wins as an amateur with a couple XTERRA World Championships and four National titles, but today was her first big win as a pro.
“It feels awesome, and it’s about time. It only took me 12 years,” exclaimed Snyder after the race.
Snyder had the fastest swim of the day and was riding up front alongside Rachel Challis until pulling away about midway through.
“That bike course was a ton of fun but gnarly in the mud,” said Snyder. “The real problem I had was staying focused because I just wanted to look around, it’s so beautiful out there. It’s like no place I’ve ever been. You go from a tropical feel to a Redlands Forest-type scene to jungle action, and it changes all the time so it's just constant stimulation.”
Snyder’s winning time of 2:32:29 was less than one-minute faster than Lizzie Orchard who had the fastest run split of the day (48:33) to move from fourth off the bike to second at the finish.
|1||Suzie Snyder, USA||2:32:29|
|2||Lizzie Orchard, NZL||2:33:24|
|3||Rachel Challis, NZL||2:35:16|
|4||Sarah Backler, NZL||2:37:35|
|5||Samara Sheppard, NZL||2:39:10|
More than two-thousand racers came out to take part in the Paymark XTERRA Rotorua Festival today.
The morning started with a 5.5 km, 11km and 21km runs (and a walk option) then followed with a 26km mountain bike, and then the XTERRA triathlon for individuals and teams.
2015 XTERRA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
XTERRA New Zealand was the seventh of 40 events where the fastest amateur athletes from around the globe could qualify to race at the 20th annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on Nov. 1, 2015.
* European Tour / + Asian Tour / # America Tour / ! Canada Series / = Hawaii qualifiers