The men’s race was much closer than 2014 however, with local athlete Dougal Allen pushing hard all the way. McNeice completed the 3.8km swim in a new course record 45:33mins, but Allen rode a sensational bike leg of 4:30:50, smashing Richard Ussher’s 2010 record by almost 12mins to claw back a lot of the ground he lost in the swim. It wasn’t enough however to catch McNeice, who won in 8:37:14.
“It was a lot harder than last year,” said McNeice afterwards. “Dougal rode so well and I honestly thought he was going to catch me. He pushed me and I ran that first lap [on the run] too hard. I really felt it in the last 15km but I think that got me the title so it was worth the risk.”
Silver for Siddall
In the women’s race, Crawford was totally dominant despite facing a record number of pro athletes. Exiting the swim in 50:55mins among a group of pro men, she maintained a lead of between five and seven minutes during the 180km bike leg and completed the marathon run 11:55mins ahead of Laura Siddall (GBR) and 20:25mins ahead of Michelle Bremer (NZL).
Siddall made her mark in only her second long distance triathlon after turning pro last year. Wanaka’s German pro, Simone Maier has been a consistent performer in recent years and finished today’s race just off the podium in fourth.
“It’s always a tough race here but the crowds are fantastic,” said Crawford afterwards. “I find it difficult leading, I really love chasing when it’s easier to keep focused and motivated. When you’re out front you don’t know what’s happening behind you.”