Rotorua's Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford dominated the Xterra Pan Am Tour in 2019 and have started their 2020 seasons in equally sublime form. Sports reporter David Beck caught up with them about there latest achievement.
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Off-road triathlon power couple Sam Osborne and Samantha Kingsford not only share similar first names, they also share a habit of winning.
At the weekend, they were in action at the Macpac Motatapu in Queenstown where they took the men's and women's wins in the Off-Road Triathlon, in the process collecting Suzuki Off-Road National Championship titles.
Osborne was delighted with the win in his first real hit-out of the season and his first time racing Motatapu. He finished ahead of Dougal Allan, of Wanaka, in second and Flavio Vianna, of Christchurch, in third.
"It's pretty cool, it's always nice when you win a national title. They don't come along easily so any time you can front up and get it right on the day is nice.
"It was a bit of an odd distance, if you look at courses that suit me this was probably one of the worst. [The bike] was just an all out drag race really which suits someone who is a bit bigger and more powerful than I am, I enjoy the more technical stuff."
Osborne was lucky to even make the start line. His bike frame cracked the day before the race while on a gentle preparation ride, the frame clearly suffering from some earlier stress. But with support from the local community, it didn't take long for a replacement to be found.
"My bike is fairly uncommon but southern hospitality is such that we found a guy in Wanaka who had the exact same bike as me and in the exact same size. It was very generous of him to lend it to me, considering I had just snapped mine in half, it was pretty trusting of him."
Meanwhile Kingsford, who is from Tirau but spends much of her time in Rotorua training and being coached by partner Osborne, said her victory was "unexpected".
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"I don't feel that I'm as fit as what I should be to race but I was stoked to come away with the win. To have a national title is great and it was the first race of the season so I went in not knowing where I'm at with my training - you have to start somewhere.
"I led from the start, I was first out of the water and just continued to lead all the way through. I think I had four minutes on them at the end of the bike but the run was brutal. It was basically 3km straight up a steep hill then back down."
She described the course as "amazing", her only regret being not having the time to take it all in.
"It was our first time down there and we both sort of said it would be nice to go back and do it in a non-racing situation because you couldn't take in the scenery on the bike ride. In a race situation you're on a mission, trying to get to the finish as fast as you can."
The pair had planned to race at Xterra Rotorua on April 4 before heading overseas to defend their Xterra Pan Am Tour titles.
While, at this stage, those races are still going ahead, the situation with Covid-19 is a fluid one so whether or not they will end up racing is still up in the air.
However, Kingsford said all they could do was continue to prepare as if they will be racing and hope for the best.
"You have to continue training as if you'll be racing. We were going to be racing at Xterra Taiwan this weekend but that was cancelled so it was quite good that Motatapu came up, a good opportunity to get a race in," she said.
Macpac Motatapu Results - Off-Road Triathlon (Also the Suzuki Tri NZ National Championships)
1st Sam Osborne, Rotorua, 2h 52m 18s, 2nd Dougal Allan, Wanaka, 2h 56m 35s, 3rd Flavio Vianna, Christchurch, 3h 9m 20s.
Women: 1st Samantha Kingsford, Tirau, 3h 43m 32s, 2nd Joanna Williams, Wanaka, 3h 45m 14s, 3rd Holly Pawson, Dunedin, 3h 52m 55s.