Structured Finance Stroke & Stride Series Race #1
12 November 2004
Structured Finance Stroke & Stride Series Race #1 10 November 2004 Swim 500 metre / Run 5 kilometre St Heliers Bay Auckland New Zealand
Race Report This season sees a new title sponsor at the top of the page and a substantial increase in prize money on offer for the fastest athletes at the Structured Finance Stroke & Stride Series. To ensure a majestic start to the Series the new Mayor of Auckland City was on hand to blast the starting horn for one of the largest fields ever crowded onto the beach at St Heliers Bay. Even the weather conditions came to the party with plenty of sunshine, warm temperatures and a tickle of an onshore breeze just to remind us that it was Auckland after all.
The first race is only over a 500 metre swim which is never really going to be sufficient to greatly break up the field however it proved enough for Samantha Warriner to open up a ten second gap back to the pursuing hordes. These chasers were lead in by Debbie Tanner and then featured likely players including; Kirsty Whiting, Rebecca Spence, Vanessa Palmer, Anna Elvery, Nicole Cope, Carmel Hanly and Marisa Carter.
As the women headed off to Mission Bay for the out and back run it was the men¹s turn to hear the starting horn and get underway for their frantic lap of the swim course. A certain perennial Series Champion was notable for his absence at this event; some were calling it a self-imposed handicap for his season. Therefore, it was left to Clark Ellice to lead the men around the buoys and back to the shore although any advantage he had at this point was miniscule as literally a dozen men ran up the beach and into transition within seconds of the lead.
At this point we should point out that the usual flat and fast 5 kilometre run had a nasty bite this week with a dogleg down onto the soft sand of Kohimarama Beach when running on the way out and then again on the return. Once they¹d cleared this little obstacle and as they rounded the point coming back into view it was Samantha Warriner extending her lead and with a kilometre to go looking assured of victory. Her last six months have been punctuated with successes and this would continue today as she took another win. The only athlete looking capable of denting this lead was reigning Series Champion Nicole Cope as she used her legendary leg speed to run up into second place despite her recent marathon mileage. Carmel Hanly cemented her elevation to the top level of the sport with a fine third place ahead of past New Zealand SWIMRUN Champ Kirsty Whiting and the blazing Rebecca Spence.
The men also had to contend with an off road excursion on Kohi Beach and for punters trying to pick a winner, a glance at the form book would reveal that just two previous winners of a Stroke & Stride were on the start line. James Elvery had completed his long apprenticeship with a golden run at the end of last season scoring back-to-back victories. While way back in 1999 Clark Ellice had won the opening race of that season. Into the final kilometres it was apparent that one of this pair would be adding one more Stroke & Stride victory to their CV as they separated themselves from the other runners. At the line it was Clark Ellice with a comfortable advantage taking the win with an outstanding wire-to-wire performance. James Elvery could be excused for having heavy legs at this event though he still had enough spring in his step to take second ahead of the classy Liam Scopes. Sam Walker started last season with a fifth place and this year has gone one better taking fourth ahead of yet another flying youngster who has risen through the ranks to challenge the big boys with William Curtayne recording his best ever result.
This is only the first race and there¹s still seven to go however the 20 points banked by Samantha Warriner and Clark Ellice in the rich Series Grand Prix may well prove to be decisive in the later rounds. It could even prove to be a long-term investment that ends up paying a healthy dividend at season¹s end in four months time.
The next race is Thursday, November 24, 2004
Female Time 1 Samantha Warriner 26m 37s 2 Nicole Cope 27 07 3 Carmel Hanly 28 18 4 Kirsty Whiting 28 30 5 Rebecca Spence 29 07 6 Vanessa Palmer 30 20 7 Anna Elvery 30 42 8 Erin O¹Hara 30 43 9 Brooke Dobbs 30 46 10 Elizabeth Orchard 30 47
Male Time 1 Clark Ellice 23m 35s 2 James Elvery 24 23 3 Liam Scopes 24 25 4 Sam Walker 24 51 5 William Curtayne 25 11 6 Tom Hahn 25 31 7 Tim Macintosh 25 46 8 Paul Angland 26 12 9 Andrew Mackay 26 41 10 Kerry Weeks 26 49