Michael Torckler has once again won the K2 Elite Men’s race with another dominant performance that saw him finish 10 minutes clear of Karl Poole and Dan Furminger. Teresa Adam also made it a repeat victory by taking the K1 Elite Women’s race in similar fashion ahead of Jorja Swain and Kate McCarthy.
This year’s MitoQ K2 started and finished in Thames, taking the field on a 192km loop. Opening up the climbing in this year’s race was the day’s high point up Kopu-Hikuai, before heading through Tairua, up Pumpkin Hill and into Whitianga, then the trio of Kuaotunu, Myundermans and Whangapoua Hills on the way to Coromandel; and finally Manaia Hill and Kereta Hill.
With a start and finish in Thames the weather looked kindly on the racers with the most stunning of race days. It felt more like February than early November and would mean that riders would have to keep themselves well hydrated during the race.
In the elite men’s race two of last year’s podium, Michael Torckler and Logan Griffin, were back for more this time around with 2017 third place finisher Karl Poole also a contender. But it was Torckler who showed why he is a multiple winner of the race, as he powered away to the win in 5.12.09 hours, 10 minutes clear of Karl Poole who had the measure of Dan Furminger in the sprint finish for second place. Antony Nalder took fourth place ahead of Dan Cross and Stuart Holder. It was Torckler’s fourth K2 elite men’s title.
Teresa Adam has had a stellar year in triathlon, defending her Ironman Asia Pacific title and breaking the course record in the process, while also taking second place in Ironman New Zealand. Adam took that flying form to the K1 race, starting in Whitianga and heading over Kuaotunu Hill first. In a manner very reminiscent of 2017 win, Adam went on the attack from a long way off to best her nearest rival Jorja Swain by 12 minutes. Teresa crossed the line in 3.06 hours exactly.
Swain, like Karl Poole in the men’s race, had to rely on her sprint to get the better of Kate McCarthy and take second, with Lee Boon finishing clear in 4th. McKenzie Milne crossed the line in 6th place, a few seconds ahead of Lara Hopkinson, Ellie Parry and Grace Cummins.
This year’s K2 main event saw James Upton take the overall win in a time of 5.31.24. Upton crossed the line 3 seconds ahead of Tim Curry and Bruce Kerr. Kirsty McCallum produced one of the strongest rides of the day, finishing as first female and 8th overall in 5.32.04 hours, 10 minutes clear of Alison Wilson and Georgia Perry.
Australian Tim Curry took the KOM on the first climb of the day over Kopu-Hikuai. Once over the top however the story changed to a steep fast descent with riders approaching 90kph. The bunch regrouped at the bottom of the hill with a handful of riders unable to hang onto the ferocious pace.
A few more dropped off the pace on the next climb over Pumpkin Hill, just beyond Tairua and by the time the bunch arrived at Kuaotunu the attrition rate had reduced the main group to just 20. Whitianga to Coromandel is the toughest stage of the race with 3 major hill climbs ending in the notorious Whangapoua Hill.
As the lead group climbed Whangapou, 9 riders, including two Australians Tim Curry and Bruce Kerr, and Hawkes Bay’s Kirsty McCallum, formed a small gap on the other 12. David Hogg from Wanaka was the strongest climber in the group and led this bunch over the Whangapoua Hill followed by Manaia and then the final hill of the day the Kereta.
As the group neared Thames a smaller group of 4 made a small break including the two Australians, David Hogg and James Upton from the North Shore. As they turned off the State Highway into the final straight James Upton took the lead and managed to hold off and win by 2 seconds over Tim Curry, with Bruce Kerr a further two seconds back and David Upton placing 4th. Local Thames rider veteran Rodney Grant came in 16 seconds later.
Matthew Sugden was the fastest in the K1 race, taking a convincing win in a time of 2.55.56 hours. Sugden, racing in the 16-18 age category, finished almost 6 minutes clear of Lewis Bower, with Callum Nisbet in third place.
The Nicholas Browne Challenge saw Emma Blackmore lead a female 1-2 ahead of Jodie Blackwood, with Brett Harpur completing the podium and crossing the line as first male with Charlie King fourth and Rebecca Dreadon fifth just ahead of Ian Whyte.
This year’s race also saw a number of Ebike riders in their own categories in the K1 and Nicholas Browne Challenge distances. Christian Adolf took the Nicholas Browne Challenge win ahead of Kevin Purcell and Pauline Mills. Meanwhile in the K1 Ebike race Mike Nightingale finished ahead of Jack Bailey.
Special mention to Nicole Sarsarginson and Warren Thomas who took the K2 Tandem title this year in a time of 9 hours 8 minutes 57 seconds. Also the Wandens – Kevin and Steve – who took the K2 Relay title ahead of Michela and Mike Beavon.
Finally our own Ed Wright finished his first attempt at the MitoQ K2, lining up for the full loop and reaching the finish line after 6 hours 58 minutes and 3 seconds.