Browns Bay start for the 3.8 km swim - Photo, ScottieTPhoto
It was a perfect day for Ocean swimming on New Years Day in Auckland city. The wind was a slight one blowing from the south west which meant the east coast of Auckland was flat and smooth. No wonder 55 swimmers turned up for the first swim of the year in the world. There was no doubt the weather had a hand in the good turn out today, the largest in the 7 years of this swim. Only four took on the 2 km swim, a new distance added to get more people involved. The rest opted for the long version, 3.8 km from Browns Bay to Long Bay.
Nick Shanks swam the fastest in 53min 45sec, he now holds the record for the distance. Terri Bidwell was the first woman to finish in 57min 38sec. Jono Ridler was the first non-wetsuit swimmer to cross in 57min 28secs another record.
RESULTS - New Year's Day Swim
Browns Bay to Long Bay - Auckland - Notes at the end
Place Name AGR Distance Time
1 Matt Penney 40-44 2KM 0:39:42
2 Shane Chubb 50-54 2KM 0:41:17
3 Denise James 40-44 2KM 0:47:18
4 Sarah Haldane 50-54 2KM 0:49:10
Place Name Age Grp Distance Time
1 Nick Shanks 25-29 3.8KM 0:53:45
2 Tim Buckley 35-39 3.8KM 0:54:16
3 Mark Harris 45-49 3.8KM 0:54:38
4 Jono Ridler AGR 3.8KM 0:57:28 nws
5 Terri Bidwell 45-49 3.8KM 0:57:38
6 Jett Curteis U15 3.8KM 1:03:06
7 Mike Cochrane 35-39 3.8KM 1:03:21 nws
8= Hamish Commons AGR 3.8KM 1:05:24
8= Martin Powell AGR 3.8KM 1:05:24
10 Sam Hope 40-44 3.8KM 1:06:52
11 Hugh Parris 40-44 3.8KM 1:07:19
12 Kerri Dewe 30-39 3.8KM 1:07:27
13 Alice Brown 25-29 3.8KM 1:07:28
14 David Grant 60-64 3.8KM 1:07:40 nws
15 Mark Checksfield AGR 3.8KM 1:07:51
16 Peter Clark 50-54 3.8KM 1:09:58
17 Sandi Wooldridge 45-49 3.8KM 1:10:40
18 Vince Sesto AGR 3.8KM 1:10:46
19 Palepua Afoa U15 3.8KM 1:12:30 nws
20= Rob Lane AGR 3.8KM 1:13:27
20= Paulette Tasker AGR 3.8KM 1:13:27 nws
22= Raewyn Barker 35-39 3.8KM 1:17:53 nws
22= Gina Yukich 25-29 3.8KM 1:17:53 nws
24= Marina Nola 40-44 3.8KM 1:21:55
24= James Harper 40-44 3.8KM 1:21:55
26 David Moulder 45-49 3.8KM 1:22:02
27 Lynne O'Sullivan 50-54 3.8KM 1:25:13
28 Kirsty Pinder AGR 3.8KM 1:25:46
29 Chris Shouksmith 60-64 3.8KM 1:26:42
30 Caroline Guy 40-44 3.8KM 1:28:27
31 Kim Tobias AGR 3.8KM 1:29:28 nws
32 Nicole Youman AGR 3.8KM 1:16:34
33 Kim Taunga 40-44 3.8KM 1:32:15 nws
34 Dan Feisst 35-39 3.8KM 1:32:20
35 Violani Afoa U15 3.8KM 1:33:17 nws
36= Craig Gregory 45-49 3.8KM 1:33:32
36= Lynley Twyman 50-54 3.8KM 1:33:32
38 Anthony Sexton 35-39 3.8KM 1:34:20
39 Mark Gillon 55-59 3.8KM 1:36:25 nws
40 Gracie MacKinlay 40-44 3.8KM 1:39:45
41 Kay Abayakoon 40-44 3.8KM 1:45:27 nws
42 Daniel Afoa 50-54 3.8KM 2:05:00 nws
SAMOA EVENTS / JAN / 2019
Bray Heads behind us and I'm about to get my baptism of cold water ocean swimming in the Irish Sea with Oceans 7 swim legend Ion Lazarenco Tiron.
He's the stuff of Legends. I was in awe with a Legend. In November 2018 I found myself in Dublin, Ireland. I was following the All Blacks on their Northern Spring Tour with a test match in Aviva Stadium. That was the catalyst for my presence in the fine city of Dublin in the Spring. That also meant I was in the same city as Ion whom I met earlier in the year in Auckland, New Zealand. He was there to swim Cook Strait, the final swim of his Oceans 7. There are 7 swims in Oceans 7: North Channel (Ireland to Scotland), Cook Strait (NZ), Molokai Channel in Hawai'i, Catalina Channel (USA), Tsugaru Strait in Japan, English Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar (Europe to Africa). This is the pinnacle of Ocean swimming. Ion was the 8th person to have completed all seven swims, and the only person to complete all seven in the first attempt.
So you can imagine stars in my eyes as I spent a couple of days with Ion and his wife Angela. I traveled to Bray where they live, Ion met me and he showed me the amazing sights and landscape of these parts of Eire. Then on my final day I asked Ion to take me for a swim in his local waters in the Irish Sea. It gets cold in these parts in November and here I was about to swim my first ocean swim in Europe.
We went down to the beach in Bray, Wicklow near where I was staying at the fine Esplanade Hotel. It was a blustery morning with grey skies and early signs of a cold winter ahead. It will be the coldest swim of my life. The water was a chilly 10 deg Celsius and I was shivering. I had to borrow swimming togs from Ion, a swim cap, and goggles. I simply had to have a swim so I could brag for the rest of my life that I swam the Irish Sea in the winter and with a swim legend by my side.
Ion was first in the water. This was normal conditions for him. Four of the seven swims are in cold like conditions in Bray that November morning. I decided not to dilly dally around but to get right in. I walked into the surf and dived in. The immense cold water emptied my body of all the air in my frame. It was cold, and we were only in togs. I immediately took a second dive and started to swim. It felt like my arms had fallen from my torso. They were numb, arms and legs, all four of them. I kept on, and flailed like a bird in a sea of cold oil. I was simply frozen but I kept on. Then the equilibrium of temperature kicked in, my skin was now the same temperature as the water or at least it felt that way. There was an odd sensation about it too - a warmth of sorts now that my body has accepted the fact I was staying in the water for more than an instant. I decided then that I needed to swim for 20 minutes to make it count. I did that, darting here and there as Ion exited the water to take photos of my brave exploit. He was encouraging and I felt like a hardened hero of sorts. I was swimming in the Irish Sea at the start of winter, and a Legend was observing my adventure.
I will do it again.
Ion Lazarenco Tiron's Oceans 7 Swims
Strait of Gibraltar - Europe to Africa (4 hours 41 minutes)
English Channel (13 hours 34 minutes)
North Channel - Ireland to Scotland (16 hours 23 minutes)
Catalina Channel, USA (12 hours 1 minute)
Molokai Channel, Hawai'i (18 hours 11 minutes)
Tsugaru Channel, Japan (11 hours 20 minutes)
Cook Strait, NZ (11 hours 5 minutes).
SAMOA EVENTS / JAN / 2019
Lesley Turner Hall in the Swiss Alps. Summiting Mt Pollux at 4092 metres.
In Samoa, there is a challenge that only a few people can meet. The Giant Warrior Challenge involves four multi-day events in eight days, Saturday to Saturday. It is not for the faint-hearted and only four have done it. All are men. The first Challenge in 2014 was called the Big Warrior but minus the Half Marathon at the end. Three brave souls took it on and completed the challenge - two Samoans, Samasoni Nimarota and Sini from the village of Saoluafata. The other was a fine Aussie bloke from Canberra named Scott Kristiansen. Then in 2017, the Half Marathon was added and the challenge moved from Big Warrior to Giant Warrior. The notion of Giant goes with the history of Samoa where in years ancient it was inhabited by Giants. Only one man has become the Giant Warrior. His name is Vince Sesto from Victoria, Australia. He is our first Warrior Giant, a man unsurpassed in achievement in Samoa. This year, a lone female has stepped forward to meet the Warrior Challenge to stand alongside Sesto in stature. She is Lesley Turner Hall (LTH) of Auckland, a proud Canadian who has been living in New Zealand for the last 18 years. She lives a full action-packed life. During the week Lesley works full time as a Senior Registered Dental Hygienist in Queen Street and on weekends she is running, swimming, cycling and climbing somewhere in the Kiwi outdoors. We have decided to reprint this interview Lesley did with the Finnish Dental Hygiene journal "Suuhygienisti-Journal" (SHJ) as it paints a good picture of our first Female Giant Warrior entrant both as a professional working woman and an enduring athlete. The interview in the "Suuhygienisti" was translated into Finnish for the Journal, this is the English extract.
The Giant Warrior Schedule 2019
Saturday 27 July, Warrior Race Half Ironman (2 km swim, 90 km bike, Half Marathon run)
Monday 29 July, Pacific Open Water Challenge 10 km ocean swim
Tuesday 30 July, Pacific Open Water Challenge 5 km ocean swim
Thursday 1 August, Samoa Swim Series 4 km ocean swim
Friday 2 August, Samoa Swim Series II, 4 km ocean swim
Saturday 3 August, two Events
Le Lava Half Marathon in the morning, Samoa Swim Series III, 4 km ocean swim
SHJ. How did you get to be a dental hygienist in New Zealand? What path guided you to become a dental hygienist? How did you end up in your current job?
LTH. Right from being a little girl at the age of 6, I knew I wanted to be a dental hygienist. The first time I personally visited a dental hygienist, she had disclosed the plaque on my teeth and even at the age of 6, I was mortified to see 'red' teeth looking back at me (signifying plaque-covered teeth). She then kindly showed me how to brush my teeth properly and at that early age, I was flossing daily and brushing my teeth like an obsessive-compulsive person. I never wanted to see 'red' teeth ever again. It was from that day forward that I became very passionate about teeth and oral health in general. Going into the dental field was definitely my calling. Once I became a dental hygienist, I knew I wanted to take my skills and passion to another country other than my home country of Canada. New Zealand was a good choice as it was not only an English speaking country, but it was also a country that was going to provide me with the great outdoors and a playground for me to play in. I love being in the outdoors, hiking in the mountains is one of my greatest passions next to my passion for creating healthy mouths.
Once I decided I wanted to live and work outside of Canada, I sent out my CV to over 100 dental offices in NZ and also put an advertisement in the New Zealand Dental Association website with the title, "Canadian Dental Hygienist for Hire.". My current boss at Queen Street Street Dental had seen my advertisement and liked the fact that I was the Golden Scaler recipient when I graduated at the top of my class from Niagara College in Ontario Canada and that I had four years experience working in a periodontal speciality practice. 18 years on, and I'm still working for Queen Street Dental in downtown Auckland.
SHJ. How would you describe your current job, and how would you compare it to some previous job you might have had in the past? Is there some special organization of tasks that you might have seen organized differently in different places?
LTH. I work full-time (4.5 days a week), in a very busy and progressive modern general dentist practice. Our clients range in age from young to old and of different financial backgrounds. Many clients, however, are people who work in the central business district comprised of lawyers, bankers, university professors, chiropractors and other medical professionals. Many of which are highly motivated people who value both their oral and physical health. Dealing with a motivated population like this does make my job both easier and rewarding. When I had started at my current practice in Auckland all those years ago back in 2001, dental hygienists were still a fairly new profession in New Zealand and so I was given a lot of autonomy and freedom to practice the way I was taught in school and with the skills and treatment planning knowledge I gained by working in the Periodontal office in Canada. I was given ample time to treat each patient and had new instruments to work with. This allowed me to provide good quality care for my patients and soon I had a very loyal clientele that returned for their 3 to 4 or 6 monthly visits. And eighteen years on, I still have a full book and rarely have no-shows or cancellations. Testament to the value my clients' place on their oral health and the oral hygiene treatment care they receive from me.
Creating my own Facebook page called "Lesley Dental Hygienist" and being on the Executive Board and branch level of my professional association for the past 13 years has allowed me to contribute and implement positive changes to the profession of dental hygiene in New Zealand. It has also given me the opportunity to be a great mentor to younger dental hygienists and to be a source of inspiration and knowledge to my colleagues and to the greater public including my own patients.
At work in Queen Street, Auckland for Queen Street Dental. Lesley has a full book of appointments everyday. She is loved by her patients and she has not had one sick day in 18 years of work. Lesley also sits on the Executive Board of the NZ Dental Hygienists' Association.
SHJ. Are there any key points that you might have learnt along the way compared when you got started as a dental hygienist, and where you are in your career right now?
LTH. After 20 years in the industry, the key point I have learned is that "life happens between visits". Patients may have left their appointment with me with the best intentions of implementing all the good oral hygiene tips and skills I showed them then things change in their lives, whether it be they have children and a busy family life, they have sick elderly parents that they have to care for or they start a new job or get a divorce. There is always something that pops up in one's life that seems to affect people's ability to care for their teeth as well as they would like to. I also noticed that ageing does play a big factor in a person's ability to keep their mouth free of plaque. Partly due to their eyesight failing and or their manual dexterity deteriorates or other health ailments affect them. From my experience, elderly people on a whole, seem to struggle with keeping their mouths 100% healthy.
SHJ. What is the best part about your job?
LTH. I love the interactions I have with my patients of all ages. I really enjoy connecting with them on their level and gaining their trust. It is very rewarding to see my passion for oral health rub off on my patients. I am proud of the people skills that I have and can relate to people of all ages. I enjoy the stories I get to hear about my patients' lives and I learn so much about the rest of the world through them and our conversations.
SHJ. Are there some parts about being a dental hygienist you would like to see get improved?
LTH. I would like to see dental hygienists being able to work independently from dentists so that we can reach the wider public. It would be great to see more dental hygienists working in retirement and rest homes. Access to patients who cannot physically go to a private practice or clinic would be improved if we could go directly to them instead of them having to come to us. I'd like to see dental hygienists working in schools more and actually scaling/cleaning children's teeth and giving them oral hygiene instruction at the school level.
L-R, Ocean swim in Auckland, Cycling the South Island, on the peak of Mt Pollux near the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, completing the Half Marathon at the World Masters in Auckland - 2017.
SHJ. What are the best parts about living and working in where you do, in beautiful New Zealand?
LTH. The best part of working and living in New Zealand is the people are fairly laid-back and easy going. They work hard, but they also appreciate that people need time away from work to re-charge their batteries and experience life outside of work. Every employee by law gets 4-weeks annual leave and are often allowed to take extra unpaid leave. It is a country full of stunning locations with mountains, volcanoes, rainforests and pristine beaches surrounding the entire two islands. It's an outdoor nature-lovers playground. I live in Auckland where the weather is mild and rarely below 10 degrees Celsius in winter. I can run, bike and swim all year round which is great for both my physical and mental health.
SHJ. How did you end up running marathons, ultramarathons, doing mountain climbing, and how long have you been doing them?
LTH. When I first arrived in NZ back in 2001, I was 29 years old and started taking up running every day. With a climate that allows you to run daily without it being too cold in winter and not overly hot in summer, it made perfect sense to take up running. I then discovered all these running races that are all around the country all year long. My first marathon was the Auckland marathon which I ran 12 months after arriving in the country and you are either that type of person who only ever runs one marathon their whole lives or you are someone who will run a 100 marathons. Eventually, I became very good at marathons and started competing and winning races more. Then I got into the long-distance races like Ironman triathlons and 60-100km ultramarathons. Even winning my first 100km ultramarathon at the age of 45. The trail running community in NZ is very large and is like one big family. The people are very friendly and inclusive of all types of runners, fast and slow, fat or skinny. Belonging to such a great community exposes you to more races and becomes very addictive. Feeling happy and achieving your goals at the end of a race is a great feeling that you want to repeat over and over again.
SHJ. How did you become such an outstanding athlete?
LTH. I have always loved sport and exercise. Back in Canada, I was on a competitive women's ice hockey team from the age of 9 to 16. And I played competitive club volleyball and varsity volleyball from the age of 14 to 23. Training many hours a day became normal to me and something I have carried with me all throughout my adult life. And now instead of team sports, I do individual sports with running, cycling and swimming, but with the same passion and intensity that I have always put into my training. And with constant training and dedication, one becomes a very successful athlete.
Lesley celebrating her 46th birthday with a 46km run around the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, NZ, April 2018
SHJ. How do you train for climbing mountains? What is the driving force behind it? What are you thinking when you're pushing for 'the extra mile'?
LTH. The best way to train for climbing mountains is firstly to be fit. And I stay fit by my daily training regime of running, cycling and swimming and also boxing fitness classes. And secondly, you have to get into the mountains. Hiking with a 15-20kg backpack in the mountains on trails gets you very fit and gets you familiar with climbing rocky and steep terrain and crossing rivers. Having an internal passion for adventure and getting more and more familiar with mountainous terrain helps you conquer bigger mountains and hike longer trails. For me the way I push my body that extra mile is I love to conquer my goals. I have never had to pull out of a race and my sheer determination always gets me to the finish line.
SHJ. Do you have other hobbies that are completely different from the ultramarathons for example?
LTH. Yes, I absolutely love to read books. I mostly enjoy reading autobiographies and health/self-help books but I also love a good fiction book every now and again. I also love going to the cinema to watch movies, foreign films or films based on true stories being my favourite.
SHJ. What ideology you might have for sports, wellbeing, nutrition, diet, relaxation, and is there some special path that made you think that way?
LTH. I have always loved being fit and truly enjoy exercise and pushing my body to its limit. I love to sweat and push my body. I enjoy many sports and doing my best to excel at them. I have always trained very hard and gave it my 100% in volleyball practice. Having that type of self-discipline early on in life had set me up very well for the discipline required to train for a marathon and ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons. I am also extremely passionate about fuelling my body with the best nutrition and for me, that means eating a plant-based diet. I also like to feed my mind with positive thinking and self-help books. Perhaps, watching my father die of cancer at an early age made me even more driven to live a healthy and fulfilled life.
SHJ. Do you have tips for others how to get started improving their wellbeing, capacity to do sports, eating the right way?
LTH. My advice to people is to just start. Start walking or running short distances each day. Start incorporating healthy food items into their diet. And do their research. Read about the positive effects of eating a plant-based diet. Check out trails or races in your area and sign up for one. If you have a goal, you will train and eat right to get yourself ready for it. Having something to focus on always helps with your motivation to lace up and go for that walk or run and you will think more consciously about the foods you put into your body. Then once you have conquered your first race or walked your first trail, you will come to love that feeling of accomplishment and the endorphin rush that comes with it. And you will want that feeling again.
SHJ. Has extreme sports had value or influence in your professional life as a dental hygienist?
LTH. I suppose in a way my extreme sports has had an influence on my professional life as a dental hygienist. Firstly, patients tend to listen to people who walk the talk so to speak. My passion for my fitness, sport and mountain climbing seems to have a really positive effect on my patients and truly inspires them. Passionate people tend to have a great influence on helping others make positive changes in their own lives, sometimes that means I can get patients to floss daily or sometimes it means I help them start into a fitness program or they start running or they improve their diet. I also have really great travel stories and photos that my patients love to hear about and look at.
SHJ. People around the world, like in Finland know that the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed in the stunning views of New Zealand. Would you recommend New Zealand for a visit?
LTH. MOST DEFINITELY! New Zealand is a great place to visit. There is never a bad day in NZ. Every day is a good day! There is so much beauty to see. Like I mentioned before, there are beaches all over the entire two islands, all of them being rugged, pristine and you feel like you're the only one there. There are mountains, volcanoes and rainforests all within easy reach, you've just got to get here. So bring your raincoat, bring your trekking shoes and go have an adventure. The clean air and beautiful surroundings will not disappoint you.
Early morning sunrise on the Mighty Matterhorn. Photo - Lesley Turner Hall, July 2018
SAMOA EVENTS / Jan / 2019
Leilani Guerry Wong Foo dominated the women's elite race. Photo Ethan Stewart
Tahiti French Polynesia triathletes took four of six medals on offer in the Elite Sprint race of the ITU Pacific Islands Triathlon Championships (P.I.T.C.) held in Apia on Saturday 1 December. The nation won the women’s gold medal with youngster Leilani Guerry Wong Foo, and took out the entire elite men’s podium. Fiji won the other two women’s medals with Sadie Pattie winning Silver and Grace Takape winning the Bronze medal.
In the men’s race Benjamin Zorgnotti, 24, won the Gold medal in 56mins 35secs. Zorgnotti was the silver medallist at the PNG Pacific Games in 2015 and will be looking to elevate that to Gold at the Pacific Games in Apia next July. He was unchallenged at the finish ahead of team-mate Raphael Armour-Lazzari (56min 30secs). Vianney Videau finished third in 59mins 33secs. Videau shrugged off a bad fall in the bike to still claim third spot.
Young Leilani was in a race on her own. She led from the start to the tape and finished a clear 10 minutes ahead of Pattie and 20 minutes clear of third place. It was not like that in the men’s race. Vianney was first out of the swim in the men’s swim, Raph was out second and Samoa’s Raea Khan third all within seconds of each other. Benjamin and Matahiari’i were out next and only a second apart between them in the swim. Once out of the water then Benjamin dictated the race with superior biking and running.
Samoa’s Raea finished fourth in 1hr 3mins 7secs. Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga shared the other placings. Tahiti’s domination cameas no surprise. They were well drilled, better organised and have access to high performance training and competition in France.
Promising triathlete Sadie Pattie of Fiji in the Women's elite race. Photo Ethan Stewart
There were a few challenges faced by the host federation. It was very slow closing the roads which resulted in the run course being cut short by 1.3 km. That resulted in fast times for a Sprint race. For the Games in July, the Games' LOC will handle a number of logistics such as road closures, finish line, transition, swim pontoon and start, first aid and medical, volunteers and transport movement.
The P.I.T.C. race in Samoa carried ITU points, the first time a race in the Oceania islands is accredited with Olympic points. The race was run in the same course that will be used in the Pacific Games next year. Now that Tahiti have had a good look at it, they are well placed to podium well in July.
The other island nations including Samoa will take a lot from the race, not least the realisation that success at the Pacific Games 2019 will look a lot different for them than Tahiti. Triathlon podium at Pacific Games has been dominated by the two French territories Tahiti and New Caledonia. In the 2011, 2015 and 2007 Games, no other nation outside Tahiti and New Caledonia managed a podium placing. The Tahitian team that dominated in Apia is likely to be stronger again with older experienced athletes being selected for the Games.
Tahiti's Vianney Videau overcame a bike fall to win Bronze medal. Photo Ethan Stewart
GOLD, Benjamin Zorgnotti Tahiti 53mins 35secs
SILVER, Raphael Armour-Lazzari Tahiti 56mins 30secs
BRONZE, Vianney Videau Tahiti 59mins 33secs
4th, Raea Khan SAMOA 1hr 3mins 7secs
5th, Matahiari'i Bodin Tahiti 1hr 4mins 11secs
6th, Rhys Cheer FIJI 1hr 5mins 50secs
7th, Timson Irowane SOL Islands 1hr 9mins 46secs
8th, Steve Nimarota SAM 1hr 11mins 30secs
9th, Petero Manoa FIJ 1hr 12mins 26secs
10th, Andrew Lapuka TONGA 1hr 12mins 32secs
11th, Patrick Newmann SOL Islands 1hr 16mins 19secs
1. GOLD Leilani Guerry Wong Foo Tahiti 1hr 5mins 37secs
2. SILVER Sandie Pattie FIJI 1hr 15mins 31secs
3. BRONZE Grace Takape FIJI 1hr 25mins 57secs
Age Group (Mixed)
1. Holly Khan Australia 1hr 5mins 36secs
2. Gideon Mulitalo SAM 1hr 10mins 18secs
3. Ty Feekings Australia 1hr 15mins 39secs
4. Sachin Desai USA 1hr 23mins 16secs
5. Kat Riley Australia 1hr 23mins 39secs
GOLD Darcy Keenan Fitzpatrick FIJI
SILVER Timaima Takape FIJI
BRONZE Tofu So'oa'emalelagi SAM
4th, Urlin Mulitalo SAM
5th, Palepua Afoa SAM
6th, Violani Afoa SAM
The very first notes of Botany Bay played by the lonely sound of the flute as it gently floats the haunting melody, the woodwind sound vibrates entirely within the ventricle of a beating heart and the tears begin to well up. That is before soprano Mirusia Louwerse sings the first line of the convicts’ dirge in that sublime angelic voice of hers - Farewell to old England forever.
You are immediately transported to a berth on the ship the Alexander, or Friendship or even the Charlotte as it leaves Portsmouth. You are a convict for a crime that would not make it to court today. The date is 13 May 1787 and you’re headed for Botany Bay against your will.
Mirusia’s version of the song is stirring, particularly if you are Australian of First Fleet or Second Fleet descendent. For them, it was 250 days of hell at sea, fastened in irons against the hold of the ship as it stalls in the doldrums of the equator. The heat down below is unbearable, and the stench of human waste and filth is your lot day in and day out.
From there to the Southern Ocean and the roaring forties, you are now thrown about like a rag doll in the roll of the ship as it rises and falls on the angry sea. You are soaking wet for months and still locked in irons against the hold. This is your history.
And as the Johann Strauss Orchestra plays on at Telstra Stadium in Melbourne, with Mirusia’s soaring tones in the air you indeed tear up, and shed real tears. The horrors of your forbears is s`eanced right before your eyes.
But then fidgety among some in the audience. The solemn moment is mentally checked against the backdrop of a 230 year of ugly history. You realise you shouldn’t feel this way.
Instead, a load of immense guilt should be your garland for the wrongs the First Fleet wreaked on the inhabitants when it reached Botany Bay first, then Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. Welcome to the guilt of Australia Day.
Tennis legend Pat Cash for one has vowed never to celebrate Australia Day again. He said recently in an interview with news.com.au that he was embarrassed and feels guilty to be Australian. He sees Australia Day as Invasion day.
For 40,000 years the first settlers had lived peacefully throughout this vast land. Estimates put Aboriginal population in 1788 upward to 1.25 million (median est. at 750,000). That number plummeted 80% in a hundred years to 117,000.
Disease, conflict and more bloody conflict as the sheer number of European settlers followed saw to the decimation of Aborigines.
A massacre – a popular word and no less emotive describes what happened, a river of “black blood” flowed in the hands of good people no less.
Cash’s view can only be expressed from a white Australian perspective. From the Aborigine perspective, it’s not guilt. It is anger, hurt and loss against two centuries of humiliation, dispossession and indifference.
These raw human feelings of guilt and anger are self-consuming. Nothing good comes of consuming oneself.
In Cash’s case, the three words that sold him into thinking this way are “racist by association”. It was a popular phrase used by Aborigine elder Jo Willmott in a workshop that Cash attended, to describe the advantages gained by non-indigenous Australians at the expense of indigenous people.
Cash had no idea he was a racist and now sees himself as one by association by just being white. He is not alone in that way of thinking. There is a wholesale call from across Australia for the day of national celebration to be changed from January 26.
Indigenous musician Dan Sultan is one who wants a date change because of the “genocide at Sydney Cove”. Australia Day on January 26 he says, is a day for European Australians.
He wants an Australia day for all, “Aboriginals, non-Aboriginals, immigrants” all living together in harmony in beautiful and free Australia.
On the other hand, and from an unexpected corner in the voice of indigenous champion and boxer Anthony Mundine comes some deep wisdom. In an interview in 2016 with news.com.au, Mundine said that indigenous history has been really bad but the present situation of where Australia is a country must guide the future.
Mundine prefers to keep January 26 as the national day. In his mind the day is sacred and there needs to be a dual sacramental framework around it, that of mourning and celebration.
First, the remembrance aspect in the morning to mourn what happened to indigenous Australians and in the afternoon there is a celebration of unity and harmony of Australia today.
This is on the premise, for Mundine and Sultan that the terrible history will continue to destroy long into the future if anger and hurt remain its guiding force for indigenous Australians.
Later in the night as the concert was coming to a close, Murisia took the stage again to sing the timeless words of We are Australia (Seekers, 1994).
I came from the dream-time
From the dusty red-soil plains
I am the ancient heart
The keeper of the flame
I stood upon the rocky shores
I watched the tall ships come
For forty thousand years I've been
The first Australian
I came upon the prison ship
Bowed down by iron chains …
A convict, then a free man
I became Australian
There are five more beautifully worded verses. Murisia of Dutch descent was born in Brisbane – she is one of many who have come from all lands on earth to live in that great land. She sings, "I am, you are, we are Australian"
This is the Spirit of Australia desired, but not yet prevailed, by all today. There is nothing that can be done to do away with the past.
Only the future can be fixed, once the errors of the past are understood and remedied. So long as the shackles of history do not encumber nor guilt by association confuse the course to a new and greater Australia.
CONGRATULATIONS to Christina Harris who is our 2017 Overall Athlete of the Year. Her three Event entries in 2017 earned her two titles winning the 22.3km Apolima Strait in April and the Pacific Open Water Challenge (POWC) in July. She then stayed on for the Samoa Swim Series (SSS) where she finished second Female, and 4th overall in a competitive field.
In total, Christina swam 61kms of open water races in Samoa this year across 3 events. She is already planing to return next year in July/Aug for the POWC 10km & 5km swims. She is also booked to contest Five Islands in September a race she has won twice before (2014, 15).
Here is the full list of Samoa Events Awards for the Year
LOCAL - Athletes of the Year
Runner of the Year Female, Ariane Stevenson (4 Half Marathon wins)
Runner of the Year Male, Kuniyoshi Watanabe (Savaii Marathon title)
Junior Runner of the Year, Durant Webster
Runner of the Year U13, Cruz Hodson
Rider of the Year, Wally Collins (3rd Tour of Samoa)
Swimmer of the Year, Sitivi So'oa'emalelagi (Apolima Strait)
Triathlete of the Year, Darren Young (OVERALL)
Triahlete of the Year Female, Kat Riley
Triathlete of the Year U13 - Mautofu So'oa'emalelagi
Triathlete of the Year U13 Female - Urlin Mulitalo
International Athletes of the Year
Swimmer, Christina Harris (Female)
Swimmer, Male, Ray Winstanley (Tasmania)
Runner of the Year (Male), Kuniyoshi Watanabe Japan
Runner of the Year (Female), Ariane Stevenson (Samoa)
Rider of the Year Male, Brendon Madden Smith (NZL)
Rider of the Year Female, Rebecca Marley (NZL)
Triathlete of the Year, Angie Keen (NZL) Overall
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 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