It was a perfect day for the second race of the National Elite Series down at Takapuna Beach yesterday. The draft legal race spiced up the competition for both the men and women which included an all-star start list with the likes of Elise Salt, Simone Ackermann, Tayler Reid and the Ward brothers.
The women kicked off racing earlier afternoon under a steady and blistering sun.
First out of the water was Nicole van der Kaay who was able to use her swim club experience in the non-wetsuit swim to gain an early advantage leading into transition.
However, it was Rebecca Spence who surprised the field with her stunning 26 minute ride. Lizzie Stannard was on her tail out of the bike transition but Spence made an early break on the first lap of the 4.9km run and maintained a 15-30 second advantage on the rest of the field.
"Swimming was my strength until I took 6 years off triathlon to work. When you don't swim for that long, it makes it that much harder to come back from," she said.
Although Spence struggled in the swim, her speedy bike and what almost looked like a steady sprint, paid off for the self-coached 27 year-old.
"I'm hugely independent which might not work for most people who need the motivation from another person. But, I enjoy working that way and don't have an issue with motivating myself," she said.
New Zealand athlete, Sophie Corbidge joined the series after taking a year off in 2016 due to sickness. Earlier she spoke about how the race wouldn't necessarily be about 'winning' but about testing where she's at and the areas that need the tweaks for her race development.
"I had a year off and needed some time to refresh and get my body back to good health again," she said.
"I've had a full months worth of training and was feeling good so I'm just really excited to get back out racing and see what I can do."
Admittedly, Corbidge didn't know where she or the other athletes in the field were at. Since the main focus was to give this first race of the season a go, she did exceedingly well and is stoked to takeaway the silver.
Returning to add to his championship points was Tayler Reid. The New Zealand triathlete came up against a strong and resilient men's field which featured athletes from the first race of the series; Eddie Rawles, Liam Ward and David Martin.
Reid emerged from the water just behind Trent Thorpe and was followed closely by Rawles, Janus Staufenberg and fellow HP squad member, Dan Hoy. The pair were neck and neck in the final kilometre which was a tremendous effort by Hoy who was chasing down a 36-second lead by Martin who set out on the bike course first.
Reid was excited to be running alongside "one of the best".
"Dan is one of our best open runners in New Zealand and when you come up against him, you've got to bring your A-run game," he said.
The pair made for a thrilling finish which had spectators off their feet. Reid timed his sprint well to come home with the win in the final 400 metres.
The final race of the series makes its way down to Kinloch as part of the Sovereign Tri Series in two weeks time. Based on their outstanding performances Sunday, Reid and Spence would be hot contenders for the third and final race. Also, with Commonwealth Games fast approaching, all athletes are eyeing up a spot on the New Zealand team with selection races taking place across the year.
1 - Tayler Reid
2 - Dan Hoy
3 - Janus Staufenberg
4 - Trent Dodds
5 - Eddie Rawles
1 - Rebecca Spence
2 - Sophie Corbidge
3 - Ainsley Thorpe
4 - Nicole van der Kaay
5 - Lizzie Stannard