Australia’s Aaron Farlow came through a strong field to win the sixth edition of the long-course Challenge Wanaka triathlon on Saturday.
Farlow broke the tape in 8:41:53, 10 minutes ahead of defending champion Jamie Whyte of Auckland with Aucklander Kieran Doe another six minutes behind in third.
Farlow, a rising Canberra-based professional, took his first Ironman win last year in the UK and showed his class with a steady performance that brought him from three minutes behind in the swim to an emphatic win. He was clearly spent at the finish.
While disappointed he couldn’t defend his title, Whyte said he was pleased with a day that saw him racing solo much of the race and unable to pick up the pace on the run as he’d hoped.
"I was trying to extract more pace from myself; I just couldn’t get any more running speed. I knew I was losing time but I just wasn’t able to get anything going on the run," he said. "I was cleanly beaten today by the better athlete."
Whyte vowed to return next year, and took time at the finish to thank the crowd that thronged Wanaka’s lakeside Ardmore St. "Thanks to the people of Wanaka for making me feel like I’m on my home ground," he said.
First out of the water were quick swimmers Doe and veteran professional Bryan Rhodes, who covered the 3.8km in Lake Wanaka in just under 48min, putting both under the swim course record. Nearly 3min in arrears came Farlow, trailed by Whyte, Courtney Ogden (AUS), Jimmy Johnsen (DEN), Keegan Williams (NZL) and Petr Vaboursek (Czech Republic).
Once onto the bike Doe and Rhodes drove the pace in the early going with Farlow, Whyte, Ogden and Johnsen rounding out the front-runners. Farlow bridged the gap to the pair, joining Doe at the 70km mark as Rhodes had dropped back with mechanical woes. Bedeviled by two flat tyres, Rhodes saw his race end about 150km into the cycle. Farlow then made what turned out to be the decisive move with 30km left to ride, overhauling Doe and coming into the second transition area with more than two minutes in hand as the gaps widened behind them. Farlow ticked off the first 21km of the marathon in 1:28:27 and had 6min on Whyte, with Doe another three minutes in arrears. Behind them Ogden and Johnsen were firing and would come through to the finish in fourth and fifth.
21 January 2012
(3.8km swim/190km bike/42.2km run)
1 Aaron Farlow (AUS) 8:41:53
2 Jamie Whyte (NZL) 8:51:53
3 Kieran Doe (NZL) 8:57:17
4 Courtney Ogden (AUS) 9:08:42
5 Jimmy Johnsen (DEN) 9:09:05
[Photo: Getty Images]