The Samoa Warrior Half Ironman race has made a cruel impression on visiting triathletes. Although triumphant and euphoric for all, the heat of the course left a rippling effect on competitors, local and overseas.
First task was the 2km swim in the Lalomanu lagoon. It is the easiest part of tri races. When it was done no amount of contemplating of what was ahead could prepare for the rude reality that came.
The 90km bike course is a four lap loop of Aleipata east, from Lalomanu to Samusu on the coast and back to Lalomanu on the interior new road. The distance is 22kms and there were 4 laps to complete.
Out of the water in order were Angie Keen and Alice Sagar both of Wellington, and Mike Cochrane. Sagar and Cochrane were team swimmers for Samoa and NZ respectively.
Keen was on her bike in a flash and got the royal escort of the police. Wally Collins, in a team (Samoa) with Sagar was the second rider on the road. He sprinted the 90km course and caught the leader in the first lap.
The order of riding once the swim was done looked like this – Keen, Wally, Vince Sesto, John Hunter and Tony Streifler. Tracy Hawkes from Taupo settled into her own race. Wally took over from Keen, and Sesto from Wally once the sprint power wore off. It stayed that way to the end of the bike ride.
Worn and weary, hot and bothered after 90km the athletes still hat a Half Marathon to run. The sun was hot at 10am, hotter at 11am and at midday it was just cruel.
Riders swapped cleats for running shoes. The heat would play a part in the order of play next. In the first 1km, Sesto took off back to the Lalomanu lagoon to completely submerge himself to cool off.
He did that twice. At that point, the will to quit was the strongest sensation. But this is the Warrior Race, you quit when you cross the finish. Massive cramps didn't help Sesto who walked half of the run. He came right at the end and ran freely again, but Angie was gone, the race well taken care of.
Cooling management became the order. Sesto used the lagoon twice, the others hawked race sponges iced and loaded with cooling release.
By the time Sesto’s body could make any sense of the punishment it was being asked to endure for the next 2hours, Keen had taken over the race to the finish.
Keen first, Streifler second and Sesto third for Warrior.
There were some massive efforts out the back – Kirsty Pinder rode the Warrior Bike for Team NZ. It was a first of that distance for her. Another to come back this year is Anthony Sexton.
He was a spectator in all this last year. He is now a swimmer and a virgin triathlete no more. Ant decided to do his very first triathlon in Samoa in Beat the Heat distance. He crossed the line in 3hrs21mins50secs, behind BTH winner Alex Montoro who won the shorter distance in 3:17:01.
The impression on visiting triathletes of the Warrior Race is one of gratitude. They are impressed with the Race, with Samoa, with Lalomanu and the Warrior Race Course – it’s the toughest race for many of them. Having it at Lalomanu made the punishment of racing a little bit easier.
It’s the Pacific Open Water Challenge 10km and 5kms swims next.
1. Angie Keen 5:25:12
2. Tony Streifler 5:42:29
3. Vince Sesto 5:46:21
4. John Hunter 5:57:19
5. Tracy Hawkes 6:19:05
Team Samoa 5:39:04
Team NZ 6:37:7
Beat the Heat
1. Alex Montoro 3:17:01
2. Ant Sexton 3:21:50
Durant, Gideon, Durant, 3:11:19
Ty, Kat, Aleka, 3:56:44