Hall of fame for ironman athlete

By Jared Smith

It was not exactly a walk in the park but the ironmen were the best of the bunch at the duathlon race of the New Zealand Masters Games on Saturday morning.

Using the Wanganui Multi-Sport Club facilities as home base, about 60-odd competitors headed out on a 5km run of two laps around Kowhai Park, followed by a 30km cycling course circuiting around Upokongaro and back twice.

Heading into the final run, Palmerston North's Soren Hall, 39, had just taken the lead back from Levin's Andy Burns, 35, - the pair having swapped positions during the bike ride.

As conditions got warmer, Hall held a 40m advantage as the competitors reached the interchange back to foot slogging, and would maintain that lead for the duration of the final run, finishing in a time of 1h 25min.

Wanganui's Adam Holmes, 36, was the first local to the finish line in a clear run for third.

Hall, a regular ironman competitor, acknowledged Burns had done most of the work on the bike as they pushed each other through.

"I had a crack at him 20m out."

He had competed in four ironman's this year, all around the Taupo region, pulling a best time of 10h 12min.

Thoroughly enjoying his sport, it has been preying on Hall's mind that he will be joining the 40-45 year age group of competition in two weeks - which interestingly is often a tougher class of athlete.

Many of them, becoming free of full time parenting responsibilities, have more time to dedicate to the craft, some having over 20 years' experience.

In his first Masters, Hall enjoyed the Wanganui course and was pleased with the organisation, being well signposted through public areas.

"It's got just enough rolling hills to make it challenging."

He is hoping for more of a southerly breeze when he tackles the Masters triathlon this coming Sunday.

Holmes was also using the duathlon to prepare for his regular ironman competitions.

"It was a bit hard actually, a bit short and fast for me.

"I've only got one speed."

He was happy his 1h 32min finish exceeded his personal goal by three minutes, and will also take that confidence into the triathlon this coming Sunday.

Two Palmerston North hospital workers who had never met anaesthetist Neil Pollock and community nurse Patricia Stitchbury combined to take the duathlon team event.

Both listed themselves as needing a partner so when Pollock made the call to join with Stitchbury, victory was their's.

Stitchbury then finished third in the women's 10km race.

A veteran of 63 marathons, she plans to reach the 100 by late next year.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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