Triathlon: Veteran Pugh fights hard to claim victory

By Peter White

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Michael Pugh and Terri Mann repeated their wins at the Coronation Classic triathlon held two weeks ago with two outstanding victories at yesterday's Marra Mauao Sprint Triathlon.

The 25th running of the popular event attracted a high class field to the pristine Mount Maunganui course but Pugh and Mann proved to be too strong by clearing away on the final run leg to both win comfortably.

Tauranga athlete Pugh was contented and also relieved for his triathlon season to be over, after he finished in 56m 38s, ahead of the highly regarded ironman competitors in Mount Maunganui's Owen Miller (57m40s) and Aucklander Tony Edmonds (59m 45s).

Consistency has been 40-year-old Pugh's mantra all summer long since he performed with such distinction in winning the 40-44 age group category at the World Triathlon championships held in Auckland in October. He has entered five triathlons and won the lot.

Pugh was in a tight struggle with Miller, and team's winner Aiden Dunster, for two-thirds of the race and was not leading as the trio started the final run leg down Pilot Bay and around the base track of Mauao.

"I had to work quite hard on the swim because I know Owen is a good swimmer and he was motoring," said Pugh.

"I made sure I stayed beside him and got hold of his feet but even that was quite tricky because he was going so fast.

"I took the run pretty steady and I felt a bit horrible on the hills, and the guys were gaining on me, but I kept the pace honest, but not fast, and Owen dropped off about halfway round. When I saw that I thought I had better get rid of him for good so I went hard then and managed to drop him and Aiden (Dunster) to go ahead to win.

"I am very happy with how the season has gone, particularly winning the Surfbreaker and today because these guys are pretty quick."

While Pugh is relaxing, the season is still building for Mount Maunganui's Mann, who is competing at the Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in France in June. The distances are imposing - a 4km swim, 110km bike and 30km run - so the recent triathlon series has been ideal training.

"This is sort of the middle of the season for me and it is all buildup between now and June," said Mann, who is from the Mount.

"The races have been part of the training for that. I am really happy with how that has gone but I have not done any speed training at all so it is really good to come out here and win."

Mann won in 1h 05m 53s, with Hamilton's Nikki Edwards second (1h 07m 48s) and former world champion Alison Hamilton third (1h 09m 17s).

- Bay of Plenty Times

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