Hometown hero Sam Osborne from Rotorua and the newlywed Jacqui Allen (nee Slack) from Australia (nee Great Britain) captured the 15th annual XTERRA New Zealand Championship elite titles at Lake Tikitapu on Saturday, April 8, 2017.
It’s the second win of the season for Osborne, who became the first local to win this race in 15 years, and the second XTERRA NZL crown for Allen, who last won it in 2012.
“Absolutely bloody stoked,” exclaimed Osborne. “It’s the first time both Mum & Dad have been able to watch the race here so they were just going nuts. That really makes it so magic, they only usually get to see me race once a year because of work and usually only one can watch, but to pull off today in front of both of them is just so special.”
Osborne didn’t have the fastest swim of the day, that honor went to the young Fynn Thompson, but he did have the best bike and run splits to win going away in 2:06:01, more than three-minutes ahead of two-time XTERRA 15-19 age group World Champion Hayden Wilde in his elite debut.
“I didn’t have one of best of swims but had a really good transition so got out first still,” said Osborne. “There was a group of five all together at the start of the bike and as soon as we hit the first open sections things started to go nuts. It was just attack after attack with all the ITU guys in that group and an always aggressive Braden Currie right there. The first part of the bike was fireworks.”
Currie, who has won the last two XTERRA New Zealand Championship titles, pulled out during the run due to injury, the extent of which is unknown at press time. “He did his fair share of damage to all of us on the bike before that happened,” said Osborne.
Today’s race showcased a wealth of young Kiwi speedsters who made an impact on the race.
“I took the lead in the first real downhill, Taura, and got a bit of a gap but Kyle (Smith) came back to me on the next short road section,” said Osborne. “I could hear he was redlining though and made sure I rode the next section full gas. The rubber band stretched but didn’t really snap. Into the big climb up to Frontal Lobotomy I had good legs and transitioned into an incredibly smooth run down Eagle vs Shark.”
Of course, the trail names are as fantastic as the forest they reside … Whakarewarewa.
“On the run, I had good legs and I just let them go and do their thing,” said Osborne. “The atmosphere from everyone out there that turned up was just next level. I had support 90% way round the course and that really carried me through.”
It was an all Kiwi top five, with Wilde in second, Smith in third, Thompson just five-seconds back in fourth, and Olly Shaw in fifth.
In the women’s race Rebecca Clarke took the early lead out of the water but Jacqui Allen was close behind and pounced early on the bike, taking the pole position 1km in and all the way to the tape.
“I really had no idea how it was going to go today, my numbers in training have improved but I had no idea how that would translate to an XTERRA race at full speed,” said Allen. “I got bashed around a bit in the swim but still existed in 2nd and after 1km on the bike I took over the lead.”
The former XTERRA Warrior award winner and reigning XTERRA Malaysia Champion married fellow XTERRA elite Ben Allen just a few weeks ago and apparently the two managed a wee-bit of trail time in the off-season as well.
“I was riding well and my skills on the bike have improved a lot over the summer so the XTERRA New Zealand course was right up my street,” said Allen, who posted the fastest women’s bike split of the day. “I came off the bike in the lead and ran my first lap conserving a little energy. I thought I was being chased down so with 4km to go I put the hammer down.”
Hannah Wells, who posted the fastest run split of the day, was indeed trying to chase Allen down but fell just about three-minutes shy in the runner-up position.
“I'm really happy with my form right now and it's unbelievably nice to be back on the top step supporting Team Allen,” said Allen. “Rotorua is just the perfect location for XTERRA racing. That along with the fabulous set-up and organization from Frank Clarke and his team make this event truly world class.”
Wells finished second, XTERRA Motatapu Champ Josie Wilcox was third, recent XTERRA Thailand Champ Renata Bucher place fourth, and Penny Slater from Australia rounded out the top five.
TENTATIVE ELITE RESULTS
|1||Sam Osborne, NZL||75||2:06:01|
|2||Hayden Wilde, NZL||67||2:09:11|
|3||Kyle Smith, NZL||61||2:12:09|
|4||Fynn Thompson, NZL||56||2:12:14|
|5||Olly Shaw, NZL||51||2:14:48|
|6||Brodie Gardner, AUS||47||2:18:32|
|7||David Ballesteros, ESP||43||2:24:06|
|8||John Mering, NZL||39||2:25:44|
|9||Alex Roberts, NZL||36||2:26:34|
|10||Cedric Wane, FRA||33||2:36:03|
|1||Jacqui Allen, GBR||75||2:34:58|
|2||Hannah Wells, NZL||67||2:37:44|
|3||Josie Wilcox, NZL||61||2:41:45|
|4||Renata Bucher, SUI||56||2:45:56|
|5||Penny Slater, AUS||51||2:46:20|
|6||Rebecca Clarke, NZL||47||3:00:37|
|7||Lizzy Bunckenburg, NZL||43||3:03:45|
XTERRA ASIA-PACIFIC TOUR ELITE STANDINGS
With the win, Osborne took the lead in the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour standings, with Aussie Brodie Gardner close behind after his sixth-place showing today, and another Kiwi, Kieran McPherson, sitting in third after his big win at XTERRA Thailand last week. On the women’s side the “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher sits atop the standing after a win in Thailand and her fourth-place showing today. Next up on the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour is a Gold-level stop in Danao, Cebu on April 23 followed by the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in Langkawi, Malaysia on April 29.
2017 Elite Men
|1||Sam Osborne, NZL||150||75||DNS||75|
|2||Brodie Gardner, AUS||147||39||61||47|
|3||Kieran McPherson, NZL||131||56||75||DNS|
|4||Ben Allen, AUS||128||61||67||DNS|
|5||Markus Benesch, AUT||102||51||51||DNS|
|6||David Ballesteros, ESP||99||DNS||56||43|
|7||Will Kelsay, USA||94||47||47||DNS|
|8||Aleksandr Dorovskikh, RUS||72||36||36||DNS|
|9||Bradley Weiss, RSA||67||67||DNS||DNS|
|10||Hayden Wilde, NZL||67||DNS||DNS||67|
|11||Kyle Smith, NZL||61||DNS||DNS||61|
|12||Fynn Thompson, NZL||56||DNS||DNS||56|
|13||Takahiro Ogasawara, JPN||51||21||30||DNS|
|14||Olly Shaw, NZL||51||DNS||DNS||51|
|15||Yuichi Hosoda, JPN||43||43||DNS||DNS|
|16||Taylor Charlton, AUS||43||DNS||43||DNS|
|18||John Mering, NZL||39||DNS||DNS||39|
|19||Alex Roberts, NZL||36||DNS||DNS||36|
|20||Dominik Wychera, AUT||33||33||DNS||DNS|
|21||Fabrizio Bartoli, ITA||33||DNS||33||DNS|
|22||Cedric Wane, FRA||33||DNS||DNS||33|
|23||Joe Miller, PHI||30||30||DNS||DNS|
|24||Emil Duraj, SVK||27||27||DNS||DNS|
|25||Akihiko Maeda, JPN||25||25||DNS||DNS|
|26||Michal Bucek, SVK||23||23||DNF||DNS|
2017 Elite Women
|1||Renata Bucher, SUI||131||DNS||75||56|
|2||Jacqui Allen, GBR||75||DNS||DNS||75|
|3||Carina Wasle, AUT||75||75||DNS||DNS|
|4||Hannah Wells, NZL||67||DNS||DNS||67|
|5||Kelli Montgomery, USA||67||DNS||67||DNS|
|6||Mieko Carey, JPN||67||67||DNS||DNS|
|7||Josie Wilcox, NZL||61||DNS||DNS||61|
|8||Marika Wagner, SWE||61||DNS||61||DNS|
|9||Belinda Hadden, AUS||56||DNS||56||DNS|
|10||Penny Slater, AUS||51||DNS||DNS||51|
|11||Rebecca Clarke, NZL||47||DNS||DNS||47|
|12||Lizzy Bunckenburg, NZL||43||DNS||DNS||43|
Learn more about the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Tour here.