While those in NZ enjoyed sleeping in on Queens Birthday, there were some kiwi's in Aviles, Spain preparing to take on the world's best duathlon age group athletes. The Kiwi team took away a number of medals including Garth Barfoot winning the gold in the men's 80-84 age group.
June 5th was the ITU World Duathlon Championships for age group athletes. The NZ contingent was 29 athletes strong managed by Deborah Rhodes and captained by Samantha Owles, both members of the Canterbury Triathlon Club and pivotal in managing anxiety levels and team cohesion.
The youngest team members were females Aimee Elliott (Canterbury Triathlon Club), Madison Williams (Dunedin Triathlon Club) and male, George Ellett (Tamaki Youth Development Sports Club) who raced in the 16-19 age category of the sprint distance duathlon, which consists of a 5km run, 20.5km cycle and 2.5km finishing run. The Trio raced well in their first international age group world championships and secured an 8th, 12th and 6th place.
However, for team member Andy Whitford, the experience was not the first large international competition. In 1988 Whitford represented New Zealand at the Seoul Olympics, a member of the 4000m men's team cycle pursuit. He has only recently began competing in both triathlon and duathlon, broadening his skill set to include running and swimming. Competing at the 2016 Duathlon World Championships, Whitford raced in the densely populated 50-54 male standard distance age group, placing 10th in the field which had over 50 competitors.
Garth Barfoot from North Harbour Triathlon Club trumped the men's 80-84 age group securing a gold medal. Canterbury Triathlon club has gained some more world champions, Jane Leckie (female 50-54) placing second, and John Thomson placing third (male 65-69), both competing in standard distance race (10km run, 41.4km cycle and 5km run). John Wood (male 75-79) of Kapiti running and triathlon club completed the medal collection, earning a silver in the standard distance male 65-69 age group.
Before the athlete's big race on Sunday they were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and relax, most team members arriving near a week before race day. Leading up to the event team members could be spotted around the small town of Candas and Aviles in their race uniforms- some athletes even managing to end up on local Television.
Many nights sharing meals and exploring alongside those who were once strangers and competitors on NZ start lines will no doubt have now led to newly formed, lifelong friendships.