The stars aligned for this year’s Oamaru triathlon and duathlon and the South Island secondary schools triathlon and duathlon champs.
The annual combined multisport events were able to go ahead at the Red traffic light setting on Sunday, the weather could not have been better and as other triathlons and duathlons have been falling over due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Oamaru one attracted several elite New Zealand athletes, aiming for representative honours.
‘‘You don’t get any better than this in Oamaru,’’ co-organiser Adair Craik said.
‘‘This is fantastic — I mean, I’m always in my element, but I just love it.’’
About 170 athletes entered in this year’s events, including pupils from schools across the South Island. They were all split into pods to meet Covid-19 restrictions.
Among them was former New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Andrea Hansen (nee Hewitt), who was making her comeback after taking time out to have a baby, and who is aiming for Commonwealth Games selection.
Hansen finished sixth in the elite open event, in 56min 49sec. She was the second-fastest woman, finishing just over a minute after Olivia Thornbury (55min 44sec).
Thornbury, who was competing in Oamaru for the first time, said she was ‘‘pretty stoked’’ with her result, and she was ‘‘very grateful’’ to get the opportunity to race, ahead of three key events she had coming up for Commonwealth Games selection.
‘‘It’s an awesome race,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s just good to go through the motions again.’’
Otago’s Janus Staufenberg, who was fourth at the 2020 Oceania Cup and Oceania Championships, won the elite open, in a time of 53min 9sec.
Staufenberg said he was using the Oamaru triathlon as a ‘‘bit of a workout’’ and he was ‘‘stoked’’ the Oamaru Multisport Club had pushed ahead with the event. There had been few other opportunities to compete over the summer due to the Red traffic light restrictions.
‘‘It’s great to put a tri together,’’ he said.
Craik said it came as a bit of a surprise to see some of the top names in New Zealand multisport entering the Oamaru event, but organisers were thrilled to host them.
‘‘These elites just inspire these young kids . . . to see the pace they go, and how they race, it’s really cool,’’ she said.
After athletes finished the race, they were handed a mask to wear. To avoid people gathering in large numbers, they could not collect their bikes until after noon. Craik said organisers encouraged athletes to grab their gear and head into town to support local businesses while they waited.
There was a lot more extra work involved in organising this year’s event, to meet Red traffic light restrictions and to host the elite athletes, Craik said.
‘‘All credit to our big team . . . everyone just lifted their game.’’
Organisers also had the support of three Triathlon NZ officials, who travelled to Oamaru from Auckland for this year’s event.