Stroke and Stride Race Report
The final event in the Reesby & Company Stroke & Stride Series can be a real test of an athlete’s endurance with the Series having commenced four months ago and each of the eight events calling for a supreme effort just about every fortnight through the summer. Many an athlete will fall by the wayside as injury, illness or a drop in form can cause a premature end to their season. For an athlete to win the Series Championship it requires not only large helpings of speed and talent but also a sizeable commitment and the ability to hold one’s form from the spring right through to the autumn.
The setting sun was low on the horizon as those tenacious athletes still in the hunt for the Championship lined the beach awaiting the start. Just to keep things interesting over the 1000 metre swim course a late afternoon sea breeze had blown in an hour or so before the start kicking up a small chop out around the cans. Not long after the male field had started it was apparent that two athletes had broken clear of the pack and this lead was extended throughout the swim. Twelve and a half minutes later it was Brent Foster first to touch the beach shadowed closely by Hamish Carter with the wetsuit less swim allowing them to open a 45 second lead over the chasing pack lead in by James Elvery then Dean Foster, Bevan Docherty, William Green, Malcolm McGregor and Reto Waeffler.
The female pro field were started soon after and it was a new face in the form of South African representative Mari Rabie who showed the locals the quickest way around the course and she lead from the water with Samantha Warriner and Debbie Tanner hot on her toes. Ten seconds back was Taryn McLeod and then a further gap back to Marisa Carter, next came Fiona Docherty and then the remainder of the field.
This race belonged to Hamish Carter from the start of the run; while Brent Foster struggled valiantly to hold on he gradually slipped back into second place. Hamish Carter’s form was now positively sparkling as he matched his great swim with a fine run leg to take a convincing victory in the final round of the Series. In the final kilometre Brent Foster was now being tracked by a flying Bevan Docherty who’s fastest run split of the day lifted him into second with Brent Foster finishing third ahead of James Elvery and Reto Waeffler.
Samantha Warriner was also putting in her own strong bid for ownership of this race with her excellent swim added with the fastest run split lifting her to nearly a full minutes lead at the finish line. The only athlete looking to be running at anywhere near the same pace was Fiona Docherty who ran through the field into second place just seconds ahead of Debbie Tanner. Mari Rabie’s late start to the season didn’t deter her from snaring a superb fourth placing in her Series debut ahead of Taryn McLeod.
Starting her season with a win may have been the warning shot but finishing with four wins from four allowed Samantha Warriner (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st & 1st) to be just about untouchable as she destroyed a quality field in the female Pro Division on her way to her first ever Series Championship. A fine SWIMRUN athlete that looks as strong in the water as she does on dry land it is difficult to spot a weakness and she certainly was the outstanding female athlete throughout this season. Nicole Cope (1st, 2nd, 6th, 4th, 4th, 3rd & 6th) also started strongly and then displayed the consistency of top placings required through the long season to produce a second place in the Series Championship. Anna Cleaver (2nd, 3rd, 1st, 3rd, 3rd & 2nd) was on target to take that second place right up until her season was sadly curtailed just short of the crucial Race #8. Previous Series Champion Debbie Tanner has more experience than most and uses this experience to continually score top finishers accumulating valuable points and fourth overall this season. In fifth is an athlete that just gets better and better as the season progressed giving Fiona Docherty a good payday and great springboard for the year. The longest commute and sixth overall goes to Taryn McLeod who travels up from Dunedin for each event and some valuable experience that only racing against the best can give. Nikki Wallwork did well to finish so high up in her first season just ahead of the vastly experienced Marisa Carter who makes a welcome return after a well-earned hiatus from top competition.
Mid way through the season was the ten year anniversary of his first every Stroke & Stride victory; the end of the season saw the superlative Brent Foster (1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd & 3rd) claim the Stroke & Stride Championship for an inconceivable 10th time. Every champion needs a challenger and this season’s strongest challenge came in the form of James Elvery (2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd & 4th) who has really taken a step up from previous seasons and is rewarded with his second place overall. Third place goes to Bevan Docherty (3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st & 2nd) who is always difficult and sometimes impossible to beat in a SWIMRUN event. The Stroke & stride is accustomed to a foreign invasion each summer and this season it was Swiss representative Reto Waeffler leading the charge that saw him finish the Series in fourth place holding out Hamish Carter by a single point. Also finishing in the money was Sam Walker who headed off the flying youngster, Thomas Hahn and the ultra-consistent Carl Cairns.
The next Stroke & Stride will be in November 2003.
Female Swim Finish 1 Samantha Warriner 13.58 28m 02s 2 Fiona Docherty 14.46 28 57 3 Debbie Tanner 13.59 29 04 4 Mari Rabie RSA 13.57 29 22 5 Taryn McLeod 14.10 29 54
Male Swim Finish 1 Hamish Carter 12.37 25m 37s 2 Bevan Docherty 13.21 25 52 3 Brent Foster 12.33 26 06 4 James Elvery 13.19 26 53 5 Reto Waeffler SUI 13.32 27 15
Stroke & Stride Grand Prix Final Points after Race #8
1 Samantha Warriner 117 2 Nicole Cope 88 3 Anna Cleaver 84 4 Debbie Tanner 82 5 Fiona Docherty 81 6 Taryn McLeod 61 7 Nikki Wallwork 52 8 Marisa Carter 47 9 Heather Evans 37 10 Gayle Clark 35
Male Points 1 Brent Foster 110 2 James Elvery 96 3 Bevan Docherty 86 4 Reto Waeffler SUI 78 5 Hamish Carter 77 6 Sam Walker 63 7 Thomas Hahn 60 8 Carl Cairns 55 9 William Green 51 10 Malcolm McGregor 45