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 had 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
In my other life, I cover the All Blacks, Boxing, watch the Weather and of course manage Samoa Events