Structured Finance Stroke & Stride Race Report
Structured Finance Stroke & Stride Race #3 5 December 2006 Mission Bay Auckland New Zealand
Race #3 is our traditional Christmas event held each December before taking a break over the New Year holidays. There¹s been a number of new names winning the early events this season yet if you were forced to pick a winner going into this race it is really not that hard to do. That¹s if you appreciate that a single athlete has won this event every season going right back to December 1992, that¹s a heck of a long time and who would bet against that record?
A great thing about a having an event in the late afternoon is that when the day dawns with miserable weather there¹s a whole twelve hours for it to improve before the race start. Certainly this was the case for the third event in this season¹s Structured Finance Stroke & Stride Series as each hour went by Auckland was rewarded with more sunshine, less wind and more warmth. By the time the athletes lined up on the beach for the start of the 1000m swim the conditions were close to ideal. What wind there was, was blowing directly offshore so it didn¹t do much to chop up the swim course.
The women¹s field started first and some of them must have been enjoying the conditions so much they took the long route out to the first turn buoy. A couple of cans later at swim¹s end it was Nathalie Bernard with the best navigation and a handy 10 second lead touching the shore in 13min 41sec. Strung out behind our swim leader came Gina Ferguson, Rebecca Clarke, Marisa Carter, Carmel Hanly, Belinda Harper, Vanessa Palmer, Claire Edmonds and Anna Hamilton.
The leading men revelled in the excellent swimming conditions and it was a white hot pace at the head of the field. 12 minutes and 19 seconds after they started it was the customary figure of Brent Foster leading from the water. He had just a handful of seconds advantage over Dylan McNeice and then Stephen Sheldrake with these three aquatic masters having broken clear from the rest of the men.
The 3 kilometre run takes you around the point and into Kohimarama, along the footpath under the pohutukawa blossoms to the turn cone, then back to Mission Bay and the finish on the beach. Not a great deal of real estate there to make too much time up. Gina Ferguson¹s reason for running hard was twofold. One, too get herself into the lead and two to hold onto that lead until she reached the finish line. This she ended up doing with aplomb as she recorded the fastest run on the day coming home with a healthy lead to record her first ever victory in a Stroke & Stride. Defending Series Champion Carmel Hanly had won the last four Stroke & Stride events but her streak was ended at this race though she still ran herself up into a valuable second place. Another having her best Stroke & Stride result ever was our swim leader Nathalie Bernard as she backed up with a solid run to score a splendid podium finish ahead of Anna Hamilton and Jacqui Seebold.
Hanging with Brent Foster during the swim leg is never an easy task as has been demonstrated on countless occasions. Trying to stay with this wily campaigner out on the first few kilometres of the run means stepping into a whole new world of hurt and has left many fine athletes shaking their heads.. He ran away from the field at Race #3 last season and the season before that and the season before, in fact Fozzie has made this December race his own for the past 15 years. Now here he was again, 12 months later, 12 months older doing it all over again and notching up yet another Stroke & Stride win. The race for second place was left to the out-of-town boys and at the finish it was Stephen Sheldrake managing to stay a few seconds clear of Dylan McNeice with then Ben Logan finishing just three seconds ahead of Blair Jordan who had won the season opener.
There was a three way tie for the men in the Series Grand Prix after Race #2. Brent Foster¹s win today looks to have blown his competition out of the water and he now holds a 10 point advantage over Liam Scopes. Carmel Hanly certainly looks on track to successfully defend her title as she still enjoys a 20 point buffer over Gina Ferguson.
The next event is on Wednesday, January 17th 2007
Female 1 Gina Ferguson 25m 18s 2 Carmel Hanly 26m 05s 3 Nathalie Bernard 26m 34s 4 Anna Hamilton 27m 18s 5 Jacqui Seebold 27m 40s 6 Marisa Carter 27m 43s 7 Kirsty Wannan 28m 22s 8 Belinda Harper 28m 46s 9 Nicole Silver 28m 49s 10 Vanessa Palmer 28m 50s
Male 1 Brent Foster 22m 45s 2 Stephen Sheldrake 23m 14s 3 Dylan McNeice 23m 19s 4 Ben Logan 23m 40s 5 Blair Jordan 23m 43s 6 Liam Scopes 23m 46s 7 Martin van Barneveld 23m 53s 8 Sam Walker 24m 03s 9 William Curtayne 24m 14s 10 Lee Greer 24m 37s
GRAND PRIX POINTS
Female 1 Carmel Hanly 57 2 Gina Ferguson 37 3 Marisa Carter 31 4 Elizabeth Orchard 29 5 Anna Hamilton 28 6 Nathalie Bernard 26 7 Jacqui Seebold 24 8 Vanessa Palmer 19 9 Kirsty Wannan 18 10 Renee Holtom 17
Male 1 Brent Foster 50 2 Liam Scopes 40 3 Blair Jordan 31 4 James Elvery 30 5 Csaba Kuttor HUN 20 6 Sam Walker 19 7 Stephen Sheldrake 17 8T Lee Greer 16 8T Graham Wadsworth 16 10 Dylan McNeice 15