Joseph Parker at the Weigh-in for the Fury fight in Manchester. Photo, Samoa Events / Seti Afoa
It was my first time watching live Boxing and my first time watching the Champion at work. His demeanour and silent approach to his task impressed me and I was inspired to put pen to paper. It was a big battle week for me, an emotional one too. What with the NZ elections and the knowledge I would be watching the Joseph Parker vs Hughie Fury WBO Heavyweight Title fight in Manchester, UK. I had strong feelings about the two events and my engagement in them.
At the end of the night in Manchester it came as no surprise to me to hear those words – “And still, the Champion of the World – Joseph Parker”. There is a lot to be said for the humble Warrior. The fighter that speaks in the ring and has the confidence to know he doesn’t need to do or say anymore. In time this quietness speaks louder than the overtly flamboyant personas that a lot of current professional fighters possess – and I now know Parker isn’t the only one.
It is also, in an uncanny way, intimidating and mysterious. Those, like me who do not know him form questions of our own, “He’s quiet, is he scared, or is he ultra-strong and angry inside” or, “He’s shy, is he unable to face the cameras or maybe he just really knows who he is and doesn’t need to explain himself further” – damn I don’t know." That’s intimidating.
The Parker I saw was not any of that, he was assured of himself. If I’m honest I was projecting my own fears and doubts onto him. He knew exactly how much he had to do to win at the end of the night. He is also true to his values. A true warrior fights not because they hate what’s in front of them, but because they love what is behind them (G.K Chesterton). With the eminent presence of his family, there is a deep respect (faaaloalo) you sense that he is representing them through honour not necessity. He reflects his family and they reflect him. This surpasses his need to create the mass hype that bloodthirsty consumers want to see.
He is a smart business man as well as a fighter. He is the Champion of the World. First, his own world, and second the WBO Boxing World. He is not fazed by the occasion and he holds a calm poise. I was being embraced into that calm world in what was a volatile Manchester Arena. Fights erupted in parts of the crowd but not once was hostility expressed towards me or his supporters.
Joseph and his uncles, Malaesa and Su'a Henry Joseph Fruean
There were a few times I was confronted by the non-Parker public. I mean I stood out as a Parker supporter with my Ula fala and Ie faitaga. As did the Samoan sisters, my new found friends who sat next to me with sei's in their ears. Parker’s energy and demeanour in the build-up definitely projected a positive reflection onto his supporters. Every comment that was made was in praise of his humble warrior spirit. Not to mention the time I went to the bar in my attire where 30 alcohol induced Mancunian boxing men were teeming with gusto and Fury pride. – these guys were huge and no nonsense geezers – some stopped me, sized me up, came up and shook my hand firmly and said, “Respect to Parker and your people, may the best man win”. At this moment I felt proud to be a Kiwi Samoan.
After following both campaigns over the weekend, the election and the fight, I slowly found myself leaning toward the latter. I had cast my vote and then forgot about it for a while. In that process I felt sad about where my country is at. That it does not reflect NZ-Pacific values that I thought we once had – my opinion. We can go on about policies forever, but I’m talking values. The measure of a country’s greatness is in the way it cares for the vulnerable. That’s what used to make me proud about NZ.
I guess it was a breath of fresh air to witness a young focussed New Zealand Pacifica with his own values, who is not only be successful because of his gifts, but also because of the person he is.
I’m surprised at the amount of people that are not yet fully on the Parker boat. Sometimes we are oblivious to the obvious. Is it a national thing or just a human thing? No pun intended. In all honesty, I can understand the initial reluctance. Although excited at first, I wasn’t fully convinced of Joseph’s capabilities after the Carlos Takam fight. That was his biggest fight yet. However, after the fight with Andy Ruiz Jr when he won the WBO Heavyweight belt, I realised that here we have a World Champion! We have a guy in Joseph who has done what we have been waiting for. Our very own heavyweight boxing Messiah!
Sceptics will talk about his defence and speed, but being there live provides a whole different perspective. I could hear and feel every punch landed and received. Thud! Parker threw most of the power punches that caught Hughie Fury flush on the body and head. I could see Hughie’s distant gaze in his eyes trying to refocus when Parker caught him. There were times that Parker got countered with Fury uppercuts as he went in for the big right hand. It was clear to me he took those risks as Fury’s power or lack thereof didn’t faze him. He knew the type of fight he wanted to fight. We all wanted to see him let his hands loose and he did. After every fight since Takam, sceptics have said he would lose his next but he’s always done enough to win. I wish there was a cure to the tall poppy syndrome. Can he get better? Of course, he will.
Sitting with sisters Olivia and Nolani Hazelman from Samoa at Manchester Arena
After this experience something else jabbed me in the face – I was reminded how revealing and vulnerable this sport is. And I can understand how boxing purists describe it as a beautiful sport. Beyond the blood and brute, you are naked to the world as your truest or falsest self. Joe resembles this in that truest sense. That’s what gave me most pride on Saturday night when I stood and chehooo’d as I heard those beautiful words... “And still..”
We saw Joe at his most vulnerable circumstance since Takam. Manchester is the furthest he has fought away from home. He was fighting in enemy territory against his most worthy opponent to date, and yet he got the result - again! All without boisterous pride or giving in to public demands, all while being true to the Joe in the mirror. It seems our nation is at its most vulnerable too. Will we hear the same announcement on the outcome of the election? And Still, or And the New? As for Parker he will face his new boxing foe in a few months. And whoever the opponent will be he has shown that he has enough for whatever challenge comes his way.
Malo lava le faamalosi Laauli
Tracy Hawkes on the trot in the Warrior Half Ironman race - PHOTO ScottieTPhoto
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 once again. 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
Angie on the Warrior bike course at Lalomanu PHOTO ScottieTPhoto
It’s the year of the Wonder Woman. For the first time, a woman is the overall champion of the Samoa Warrior Race.
Angie Keen, 29, of Wellington beat all others in a fast time to be the overall champion at Lalomanu.
It was a brutal race at a stunning location on the south east coast of Upolu, Samoa.
"That was the hardest Half Ironman race I have done, no two ways about it," Keen said after her victory.
The heat was the critical factor. Good management of that variable is crucial to a good Warrior race.
Angie crossed the line 17mins ahead of Tony Streifler in second place but it did not all go her way. She was first out of the water at 26mins flat then led the first two laps of the bike course but surrendered it to Vince Sesto of Victoria.
Cramps and not arriving in Samoa until a few hours before the race then played havoc with Sesto’s system to shut it down.
But by then Angie had clawed her way back to recapture second spot, and the first spot before the first lap of the Half Marathon was done.
Her time is the fastest Half Iron time outside the Pros of the first two years.
"For once I did not push myself toward the end. I did that once and I suffered for weeks after the race."
She is on her way to represent NZ at the Worlds in Canada and the Warrior Race was her prepping space.
She termed the Warrior Race “Brutal”.
It’s a compliment on the course at Lalomanu. Hard and Hard but rewarding when done.
She will now spend a few more days on the islands for the Samoa Swim Series and race the 10km at Le Lava Half next weekend.
She said she is coming back. Warrior is a Wonder, a brutal but brilliant battle.
Warrior Champion 2017
Swim 2km, 30mins
Bike 90km, 2:34:38
Run 21km, 2:20:34
UK runner Tom Booth targeting a win at Le Lava Half in Manase
Two top runners one from the United Kingdom and the other from Auckland, New Zealand are targeting the inaugural Le Lava Half Marathon at Itu-o-Tane next weekend.
Dan Jones of Auckland and Tom Booth of Cheshire, UK are aiming to be crowned Le Lava Half Marathon Champion. One has youth on his side, the other a better PB time in the distance.
The race is the fourth Half Marathon to be held in Samoa this year organised by Samoa Events.
Dan and Tom do not know of each other, but both are keen to secure the win next Saturday morning.
Tom, 24, is an outdoor Educator and his passion is running. He has many long distance trail running titles under his trail belt from around the world including Canada, New Zealand and in his native UK.
His personal best time (PB) in the half is 1hr22m54s. His aim is to duplicate that time or better it next week.
His PB’s in other races include 16m45s for 5km, 38m in the 10km distance and a trail Marathon in Canada at 3hr59m38s.
Chasing him will be Dan Jones, 35, whose PB is quicker at 1:17:50. His expectations for Saturday is a leisurely 1h30min.
Should Tom run 1h22mins he is aiming for, it will be the fastest Half Marathon time in Samoa this year.
In comparison, our national half marathon record stands at 1:19:00 (2000, Darren Young). The fastest Half this year is 1:29:39 by Kuniyoshi Watanabe (Japan) at Lalomanu.
The race between these two men is worth the admission ticket alone. But they have something else in common.
Their wives are named Kate and Katie who are also traveling with their men to Samoa for the race.
In the case of Daniel and Kate Jones, they are also booked to compete in the three swims of the 6th Samoa Swim Series that starts next week.
Dan will have his work cut out though. The Half Marathon is on the morning of the final Swim of the Series from Le Lagoto to Jane’s Bar.
The half marathon starts.finishes at Manase at Tanu Beach Fales, and goes via the Lava Fields at Sale'aula village to the turnaround at Mauga village.
Dan and Tom will be joined by many others, local and international competing in other distances – 10km, 6km and 3km.
Ariane Stevenson the darling of Samoa running at the moment is also competing. She is chasing her fourth Half win this year. Should she win, Ariane will hold all four Half Marathon titles in Samoa in one calendar year, a feat that will not be easily undone by anyone in the future.
The 10km race turns around at Sale’aula border with Sato’alepai. The 6km run turns around at Le Lagoto. And the Savaii Samoa Tourism Authority (S.S.T.A.) 3KM walk is a direct one way walk or run from Le Lagoto to Manase.
The race means Samoa now holds four Half Marathons during the year – Lalomanu, Savaii Marathon, Le Lava and Independence Half. As well, there are two full marathons on Savaii in April and the Independence Marathon.
Samoa Events’ enthusiasm for running goes well with its vision to make Samoa the Action Capital of the South Pacific.
More running Events are planned for 2018 including a 10-Day Run Series that will take in the best running courses on both Islands. Watch this space.
Best Half Marathon times in 2017
1:29:39 Kuniyoshi Watanabe, Lalomanu Half
1:33:52 Tueffy Tuigamala, Savaii Marathon
1:36:03 Darren Young, Independence Marathon
1:48:56 Ariane Stevenson, Indepdence Half Marathon
1:50:58 Ariane Stevenson, Lalomanu Half
2:04:32 Ariane Stevenson, Savaii Marathon
Best 10KM in 2017
Andrew Sexton (NZL) 40:43 Lalomanu Half Marathon
Theresa Philips (Aust) 56:56 Independence Half Marathon
Women Champions - Aleka Freijah 10km and Ariane Stevenson the Half Marathon winner
Kuni sets new record for Savaii Marathon
Kuniyoshi Watanabe 26, of Japan set a new record for the ANZ Savaii Marathon at Saleologa on Saturday. He ran a superb race to finish 3:27:57 and in the process set a new record. He was almost an hour faster than the previous record set by Bobby Carney (4:24:56) in the inaugural race last year.
Kuni, as he likes to be called, was one of four Japanese runners in the full marathon. The other three – Hiromi Nagae, Noriyuki Arai and Hiroshi Miyazaki – all managed to complete the full marathon in trying conditions.
It was hot. Once the sun came up, there was no escaping the relentless sun rays.
Whilst all of the marathon runners crossed the finish line, there were two casualties of the heat. Two runners pulled out, one out of heat exhaustion.
Marathon Runners - Hiromi Nagae, Kuniyoshi Watanabe, Noriyuki Arai and
66yr old Hiroshi Miyazaki, all of Japan with their Marathon medals
It was another fantastic event well supported by the leading sponsors of the race, ANZ and Samoa Stationery and Books (S.S.A.B).
In the Half Marathon, Tueffy Tuigamala set a new record in 1hr 33mins. Ariane Stevenson was the first woman home in that race.
In the 10km race it was Tini Lapaialii who also set a new record at 39 minutes for the 10km run from Fogapoa to the finish at ANZ and S.S.A.B. Salelologa. Aleka Freijah was the first woman home in that race.
Records for the 5km and 3km races were won by Savaiians, same as last year.
A grateful team gave thanks at the end, because something very special had just happened on Tuesday afternoon, 11th April last week. Our very own Sitivi So’oa’emalelagi, 16 years of age had just won Apolima Strait swim, 22.3km race from Mulifanua Upolu to Salelologa, Savai’i in an amazingly quick time.
It was unexpected, a little surprising but no surprises there. Sitivi’s open water talent was not unknown, and now even more evident.
His time of 5hrs 37mins 27secs is a fast one, considerably so. Considering too his late coming into the race and qualifying for Apolima Strait on Saturday, 25th March with only three weeks to race day. Not that he was not going to qualify. Sitivi was always going to go under 4hrs for the 10km qualifier. He did, at 3hrs 13mins. Not spectacularly fast but he had qualified.
To then swim 22.3kms to Savaii, an extra 12kms in just over 2hrs of his qualifying time is something truly amazing.
The issue with Sitivi’s Apolima ambitions was, if any, had to do with long distance swimming. Up until his qualifier three weeks ago, Sitivi’s longest swim was 4km in the Samoa Swim Series at the Sinalei Resort swim in August 2015. He was fast then too. Sitivi had been competing in SSS races since 2012 and regularly podiumed against older overseas swimmers.
Going to 10km for the qualifier might still be relative to his pool sessions with Tanifa o le Vai national squad but 22.3km in the open sea? That was the unknown factor.
I was with him that day on the kayak beside him. The focus I told him, was strength, not speed. Still, when the clock clicked beyond the 3hr mark in the qualifier, I was silently disappointed. Sitivi is fast, and even with toning down the speed I still expected a sub 3hr 10km qualifier swim for him.
That was the unknown factor. How much can his young shoulders carry Sitivi beyond 4km and 10km without diminishing returns per kilometre beyond that?
The answer is now clear and obvious but it is unexpected. Sitivi had not done the long lead in preparations other swimmers did.
Swimmers for the race had prepared well in advance of six months. Getting shoulders and bodies used to handling that distance is a matter of calculated evolution of movement.
You cannot expect the body to perform at a level it is not used to. Sitivi’s shoulders, no matter how fast he is, have not turned over at speed beyond two hours of swim training at best. That was the unknown factor. To then continue at 14mins per km in the open sea for five hours is the most incredible part.
In Sitivi, Samoa has a very special talent. He is the best open water swimmer we have. His pool ambitions may have to give way to his true talent. National coach Suzie Schuster is no doubt mulling over Sitivi’s results and how best to re-direct her swimmer.
Sitivi’s race time is the second fastest in the two years of the race. Only Philip Ryan who won the inaugural race last year is faster. Philip was on his way to the Rio Olympics and he was finely tuned. He swam the distance in 5hrs 03mins.
Last year’s race was very different to this year’s race. Philip was on his way to recording 4hrs 30mins for the distance when the Apolima Strait current intervened and carried the swimmers far right of the destination finish. Then, the five swimmers and two teams spent a lot of time trying to swim left to reach Salelologa without success. Instead, the decision was made to finish in the Salelavalu lagoon.
There were no such trials this year. Moving the race away from a high full moon tide to a non-full moon swim made a lot of difference. The Strait water did not move in volumes, and we were able this year to guide everyone to the finish at Salelologa.
For the race on Tuesday, we had anticipated the same shifting to the right away from the finish, and so compensated by moving the race line quite a lot south of the ferry line. Except the shift did not happen and there was no tidal correction that was anticipated. The result was lost time, in Sitivi’s case, perhaps 20 minutes.
His pace and stamina was truly amazing. He kept on, his own support crew of swimmers of Teofilo Molio’o, Clinton Mauala and sister Fanaafi could not keep up with him when they took turns to swim alongside.
Sitivi’s time in the end was an hour faster and some to second placed Paul Feltoe of New Zealand. He was faster than Team Tonga who finished first in the Teams’ race. Team Tonga was made up of Tongan national swimmers, Sitivi’s time is 58mins faster than the Tongan total.
He was the second to last to start. Paul Feltoe was the last starter at 6.45am, Sitivi started at 6.30am. First starters was a further 90 minutes ahead at 5am. Still, Sitivi kept passing swimmers at will on his way to his desired haven in Salelologa. He was relentless. There was not a slowing down. The fatigue factor expected beyond 10km at around Apolima Island did not happen. It seemed he was immune from those trials.
Sitivi’s crew consisting of legendary swimmer Mailata Iosia Leau, himself the first man to swim to Savaii in 1988, he was Swim captain guiding Sitivi’s race. Dad Steve Brown was on the kayak, as was aunty Vaimasanu’u Zita Martel who was on another kayak. Clinton and Teofilo were there too. Sitivi’s sister Fanaafi and younger brother Mautofu completed the support crew.
What a sight it was as they guided young Sitivi to the finish at Lusia’s Lagoon. At the finish and before any celebrations amongst themselves and others, the team got together on the water, kayaks and support boat all in one. They joined hands and sang a song of Thanks – Faafetai i le Atua – and said their prayer.
The Almighty had guided everyone safely to their desired haven. And they gave thanks to the Lord.
Sitivi So’oa’emalelagi, 16yrs SAMOA 5:37:27
Paul Feltoe, 43yrs NZL 6:48:10
Christina Harris, 53yrs NZL 6:53:11
Tony McLean, 47yrs NZL 7:18:38
Robin Rose, 56yrs USA 8:31:55
Tiffany McQueen, 44yrs USA 9:35:00
Team Tonga 6:35:00 (Mixed team x 4 swimmers)
Team Jo Armstrong 7:39:01 (All female x 3)
Team Paid for by Mexico 7:45:00 (All male x 4)
The 7 swimmers L-R, Durant Webster, Bernie Poort, Aleka Freijah, Alex Montoro, Stuart Brown, Kat Riley and
Tyson Feekings. At the end of the 3.7km swim to Manono, they then ran the 6.14km trail around the island. Pic. - Susie Poort.
On a perfect day, that was the backdrop for the very first Manono Island Swim + Run event. There have been many swims to and from Manono, but never a run.
The run is the continuation of the Samoa Events Run Series, and the swim is helping push out the boundaries for local open water swimmers in preparation for the international swim season to come. In the end it was a thoroughly perfect double event.
The seven swimmers all finished the race with a smile on their face. For six of them it was their first swim to Manono from the mainland. Over the years, I have swam with many swimmers to Manono to fulfil their dream of touching land after swimming 3.7kms in Open water. I have done a few on my own, and many a times, I have turned around and swam straight back. It is the swim here: Open, free, challenging and safe.
All those aspects were in play yesterday. When you first stand at the Manono wharf looking at the island it looks so close that you can almost touch it. It gives the swimmer a slightly misleading sense for the swim to come.
For the first 1km in the smooth of the leeward part of the mainland that sense a very easy swim stays with you. Then the challenge emerges. The current of the day starts to take over. The closer you are to the island the more prescribed the current becomes, and its either sweeping right or sweeping left. Yesterday, it was sweeping right to left across the face of Manono. There were some big curves in the end in some of those individual lines. But it was all safe and a great yarn was told by everyone of their swim at the end.
The crossing was won by young Durant Webster of Tanifa o le Vai. His time of 1hr 18mins was 10 seconds ahead of Ty Feekings. The two made a break for it together early on, and stayed together to the finish.
Alex Montoro was second, followed by ANZ CEO Bernie Poort. Bernie was the only one of yesterday’s group to have swum to Manono before. He is relishing being back from Tonga and being able to inject himself into the local open swimming programme.
The two ladies, Aleka Freijah and Kat Riley swam together and were the next to finish. Stuart Brown is slowly getting back into swimming and was last to finish in 1hr 55mins. He had a great swim.
Next, the swimmers joined the rest of the group for the Run and Trot around the perfect island – no cars, no dogs, no bikes. The entire 6.14km trail and track around the island is litter-free and well maintained.
There were 24 runners / walkers in total. The run started at 3pm in the afternoon in the heat of the day.
In the run was newly returned Ironman Darren Young who used the race to loosen up tired legs from a week ago.
Alex, Durant and Ty doubled up from the swim to take the top three placings in the run. Montoro claimed his first run title in the Run Series. Combined times gives young Durant Webster overall victory of the race. Super Kat Riley takes another win in the run series and is the first women’s Manono combined winner.
The next Samoa Events race is the Race 2 of the TRI Series next Saturday at Mulinu’u.
RESULTS top 7
Winners: Men, Durant Webster; Women, Kat Riley
I have seen every Cameron Brown finish of the last four years. That is how long I have been a happy volunteer at IMNZ
It was great to volunteer again for Ironman NZ, something that I do every year. I am usually in Transition (T1) with Robyn Orchard's Team, but then I am also all over the place. I am always there on Friday for Bike racking. It is great to welcome back multiple Taupo IM men and women. Then you get to meet the virgin Ironman, in for the very first taste of the ultimate race at the this great location.
Over the years I have accumulated a number of friends that also compete. Many have been to Samoa to do our Events. Volunteering is a chance to catch up with many of them. I now have fine tuned the art of doing my work at T1 and being at the right place at the right time to catch a pic of the many friends I was following.
Ironman this year had very tough conditions. The wind picked up during the night which stirred the mighty lake. The swim was rough and slow for the non-swimmers. The wind then stayed around for the bulk of the 180km ride. The ride out to Reporoa a third faster than the return leg. There was not going to be any PBs today because of the wind. Up above, it was blue skies all day.
It was great to see Cameron Brown (Samoa Warrior 2013) run a great race. I am right there handing out race backs with all the wonderful volunteers as the athletes come streaming through. I saw Cam, and he was well over 5 minutes behind in the swim. It was great to see him in at second place after running the best marathon of the day at 2:42:29. I managed to have a chat with Cam afterwards. Given another 2kms he might have caught up with first time winner Braden Currie. I saw Braden come in to win in a flash of speed. He was in control of his race.
I also caught up with Graham O'Grady (Samoa Warrior 2013, 14) who unfortunately blew out in the bike leg. Always nice chatting with GOG. Then there was Stephen Farrell who has been to Samoa several times to compete with us. Steve won his Age Group, 55-59. He's amazing.
Then there is the group of Samoan athletes from around the world and NZ that competed including our very own Darren Young from Samoa who was chasing his second full Ironman. He did nicely at 12:16:00. Just ahead of Darren, Karen Rasmussen crossed the line at 12:14:00 and her brother Lee who lives in PNG finished in 13:02:41. Michael Stowers completed his 11th Taupo IM 4 minutes shy of midnight. I saw him off the bike and he was spent. But he's done it before, he was always going to finish. Managed to catch Mose Saseve at the finish line after crossing for his virgin IM 14:08:31.
There were two representatives from American Samoa. Patrick McEntire was on his first IM. He started with us in Apia, coming across from Pago Pago back in February 2016 to compete in his first Olympic Distance. Then in July he completed the Samoa Warrior Race Half Iron distance, and in October finished the Sau'ai Giants' TRIATHLON 3/4 IM on Savaii in 10hrs 52mins. In Taupo, he completed his first FULL IM in 14:32:18. This is a great story. Richard Birgander is a Swede who came to Samoa to compete in the Sau'ai Savaii Giants TRI last year. He completed his second IM hand in hand with his mate Patrick.
The standout performance for me was from Abby Armstrong who was doing her first IM. She had only competed in one triathlon before Taupo. Yes, I hear you say! Not only that, Abby swam the Apolima Strait with us a year ago. She's the Women's Record holder for Apolima Strait 6hrs 30mins. Here she was lining up for her first IM.
She smashed the swim in 1:02:17 and rode 6:10:48 in the bike. That was impressive. Something had to give and it was in the run that things slowed down for her. Her marathon time of 5:14:47 is in itself impressive. Abby finished 11th in her AGR in 12:37:14.
Abby is returning to Samoa for the Apolima Strait swim next month. This time in a team with mum Jo. There is a lot of energy in that little frame.
Virgin Ironmen no more - Mose Saseve of Auckland and Patrick McEntire of American Samoa
The other brilliant performance was from Anna Dungey (Tour of Samoa 2016). Anna was the only athlete I spoke to who did a Taupo PB in those conditions. Well done Anna.
I also caught up with Katherine Reardon (Samoa Swim Series 2014). She was second female overall in the Half Ironman.
And there was a heartbreak story. My best mate Paul Glenn was on to his 10th Taupo IM. He had done a lot of preparation for the race, at the same time he needed everything to be equal for him to have a chance of getting in before midnight. The wind and three flat tyres did not help. He was 10mins from cut off in the swim at T1, and missed the bike cut off by 1 minute. He was the first off the bike after the cut off. I was part of this support crew with his wife Robin, and good friend Katheren Leitner. We all had an emotional time in the big Tent accepting the fact his race was over. Paul will be back next year.
After the race, I drove late in the night back to Auckland to catch my flight back to Samoa on Sunday arriving home at 5am. I will be back in Taupo next year at T1, and Racking bikes on Friday before the race.
13 yr old Gideon Mulitalo has not missed a race of the Samoa TRI Series in 5 seasons.
He started when he was 8 years old in the Tamatoa Tri Series. He finished 3rd in Race 1.
The 2017 POWERADE TRI Series kicked off on Saturday at Mulinu’u in perfect conditions for swimming, biking and running. The two races on hand, Tamatoa TRI for kids and the main event Sprint Triathlon was contested by very keen athletes at the Peninsula.
The three disciplines of the Sprint race saw competitors undertake a 750m swim, 20km bike and 4km run. The bike ride was contained within the peninsula with six laps between the roundabout at Sogi and the MNRE Weather office.
Darren Young, as expected dominated Race 1. There is no one else even close to his level of training and commitment to the sport on island at present. The race was simply a dot on his mega preparations for the New Zealand Ironman in two weeks. Darren used the race on Saturday to work on smaller parts of his Ironman race such as Transition. That is a very important part of the sport, transferring from Swim to bike, and bike to the marathon run.
Behind Darren yesterday were two of our most consistent locally raised triathletes. They are the future of the Sport in Samoa. Young Durant Webster finished second and Gideon Mulitalo came in a close third. They were second and third out of the water in the swim, ahead of Darren.
The two 13 year olds have been racing the Samoa TRI series for a few years. In the case of the young Mulitalo, he started in the series when he was an 8 year old. The staggering thing about his commitment is, he has not missed a Triathlon in five years, since 2013.
He is well supported by his parents Pastor Arthur Mulitalo and Avele College senior teacher, Line Mulitalo and the Oceania Triathlon Union (O.T.U.). Gideon has exclusive use of a Scott Tri bike which was funded by O.T.U.
Gideon is a fine example to our young triathletes, and to his younger siblings Urlin and Filipo who also competed yesterday. Filipo completed his first Tamatoa Tri yesterday, swimming all by himself and then riding and running to the jeer of supporters at Mulinu’u.
For all athletes yesterday, apart from Darren, it was the first time they got on a bike this year. It was fitting then the ride was a short one at 20km. There has been a lot of swimming and running here of late, so those two disciplines were well maintained yesterday.
Kat Riley was the sole female in the main Sprint race. For her first effort in a triathlon, that was a super effort to finish.
There were three teams in the race. The trio of Sara Todd (swim), Wally Collins (bike) and Cruz Hodson (run) claimed superiority in the teams’ event.
They finished seven minutes ahead of the next team and only two minutes back from individual winner, Darren Young.
The Samoa TRI Series is a joint effort this year between Samoa Events and the Samoa Triathlon Federation. Race 2 is on Saturday, 18th March.
Samoa Events’ first Te Kiwi Swim to honour Waitangi Day was a huge success. It was also part of a double-header events weekend held in Apia. The first event of the day was the Apia Waterfront 10KM Run early morning, second run of the Samoa Events Run Series that is a header to the Savaii Marathon on April 8th. Te Kiwi Swim followed later at midday at Taumeasina Island Resort to celebrate New Zealand’s national day.
The event brought together over 50 swimmers of all ages to participate in several races. The youngest swimmer was aged 7 years and a few are within range of their 70th birthdays.
And that is the magic of swimming, open water swimming in the ocean here in Samoa is actually dominated by the 40+ age group, in participation.
Stunning efforts from the senior group belong to Maree Hopley (60-64) who won the women’s 2.2km race. Geoff Dews (65-69) finished fourth in the men’s race. Also in the same AGR as Dews, Steve Iverson finished mid-pack in the 1.2km race and just ahead of Sieni Jan Doyle. Notable mention for Margaret Lesjak who signed on for the shorter distance but ended up swimming the longer race.
In the 50+ age group in the 2.2km race, Apolima Strait legend Mailata Leau came through again. Darren Young had his toughest swim ever, and Daniel Afoa did not give up in challenging conditions. In the 1.2km race Bernie Poort finished in second place and Steve Iverson just ahead of Sieni Jan Doyle. Stuart Brown also gets a mention for finishing his first ocean swim in Samoa.
But youth cannot be denied. Sitivi So’oa’emalelagi of Tanifa o le Vai was just too good to win the main race. TOV’s Andrea Schuster and Urlin Mulitalo took overall honours for the 1.2km and 250m respectively.
Saoluafata Village Triathletes did well with a men’s win (Palasi Live) in the 1.2km race, and many of their youngsters swam the 250M. Two from SVT swam the longer 2.2km race.
In keeping with Te Kiwi Waitangi theme, NZ Deputy High Commissioner Mike Walsh presented cash prizes to the winners. That was followed by a stirring haka by the Taumeasina events team. Then there was the beautiful Hangi kai by executive chef Bradley for post events festivities.
Swim Podium Results
Sitivi So’oa’emalelagi, 40mins 17secs
Maree Hopley, 1:04:42
Andrea Schuster (overall), 20mins 38secs
Palasi Liva, 27:50
Urlin Mulitalo 4mins 25secs (Overall)
Tofu So’oa’emalelagi, 4:35