Wanaka triathletes Mark Williams and Kristy Jennings conquered hot, dry conditions in Penticton, Canada on August 24 to gain age group podiums at the ITU World Cross Tri Championships.
It was the second time both athletes had competed at the cross-tri world championships, with Williams improving his fourth placing in the men’s 30-35 age group to second, and finishing fourth overall of all age group male athletes.
Jennings had a tyre failure at last year’s world championships in Australia and did not finish, and then had a spectacular crash at the qualifying event in Rotorua earlier this year, breaking ribs and fingers and spraining an ankle.
She more than made up for those disappointments by finishing second in the women’s 35-39 age group and second overall of all age group female athletes.
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Cross-triathlon is an off-road race, typically comprising a 1km swim, 20-30km mountain bike ride and a 6 – 10km run.
The elite races were won by Mexico’s Francisco Serrano and Canada’s Melanie Mcquaid.
Spaniard Ruben Rufaza finished with the men’s silver while bronze went to Kiwi Kyle Smith, who also won the under-23 world championship gold medal.
Great Britain’s Jacqueline Slack and Swiss triathlete Ladina Buss finished with silver and bronze, respectively, in the women’s elite field.
Williams said the New Zealand team performed strongly, with Lewis Ryan of Rotorua winning the under-19 category and Marc Prutton, of Christchurch, finishing third in the men’s 30-35 age group.
“The water got over the threshold of 22.5 degrees so they called a non wet-suit race, which was beneficial to both of us [Jennings and himself] and we both swam exceptionally well. I was second out of the water, in a group, and Kristy was as well, so that was cool,” Williams said.
The dusty, sandy bike course was a mixture of long, fast straight gravel roads, highly technical rocky and rooty terrain, and fast downhill, while the run included fast stretches of open road and technical hill sections, Williams said.
“It was hot. We were running at 11.30am and it was over 35 degrees, so extremely hot. Penticton is a same altitude as Wanaka and similar in that it is dry heat, even though it is 10 to 20 degrees warmer in the summer. But it still feels the same as a hot summer’s day in Wanaka. Hours of indoor, winter training was not ideal. But we arrived about three days prior and adapted to the heat pretty well,” he said.
Wanaka’s veteran triathlete Andrew McLeod will compete in the long distance off road triathlon on August 27.
Williams and Jennings next compete at the Xterra World Championships in Hawaii at the end of October, with the 2018 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Denmark their next port of call.