Photos courtesy Xterraplanet.com
By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
Aucklander Lizzie Orchard carried her trademark in-race smile all the way to the eye-catching Kiwi result as Arthur Serrieres and Solemn Billouin made it golden day for France at off-road triathlon’s XTERRA World Championships in Italy on Saturday.
Orchard was 10th in the elite women’s race, earning €500 for her efforts after sneaking into the last prize money spot. She completed the 1.5km swim in Lake Molveno, the 32km mountain bike up into the muddy Dolomites and the slippery 10km trail run in 3:34:35 – 23:41 adrift of Billouin.
Matamata’s Kieran McPherson placed a creditable 13th in the elite men’s race in 2:50:14, 11:52 down on Serrieres (main image). Judging by his one-line Insta post afterwards, McPherson was clearly happy and why not after producing the third fastest run split of 42:42 to climb his way up the 55-strong field.
Martin Ralph was the best of the Kiwis in the age-group racing, finishing 16th in the 50-54 category in 3:47:21 on the same course as the elites. It put Ralph 28:47 down on the 50-54 age-group winner, Laurent Beuzeboc.
Yet another Frenchman, Johann Mathis, won the 40-44 men’s title while Kiwi Jason Savill was 34th in a time of 3:51:28 – 42:36 down. Lisa Horn was 24th in the women’s 45-49 category won by Italy’s Eike Innerebner. Josie Sinclair had qualified for the 60-64 category but there was no result posted for the fourth Kiwi age-grouper.
Serrieres has finished runner-up the past two editions, including last year in Hawaii to Kiwi star Hayden Wilde who is on Super League Triathlon duty in Toulouse tonight (Sky Sport 2, Channel 52 from midnight) so was unable to defend. The near-run thing obviously inspired Serrieres who was racing for his ill mother while sporting a fearsome-looking Peaky Blinders hairdo.
The tears flowed when he crossed the line in 2:38:22 after powering away on the run. Countryman Arthur Forissier claimed the silver in 2:41:04 while Spain’s Ruben Ruzafa completed the podium after finishing a tick over three minutes down on Serrieres.
“It’s a very emotional win, because today I ran for two,” Serrieres told Xterraplanet.com after crossing for his maiden world title.
“My mom has cancer, and she couldn’t come here because she got sick, but I’m sure she is proud of me.”
Billouin, meanwhile, came from fourth after the swim to reel in Amanda Presgraves, Sandra Mairhofer and early pace-setter Daisy Davies on the bike and never looked back. Her win, as it was for Serrieres, was worth a cool €20,000.
“It was my strongest race ever,” said Billouin, who posted the best bike split of the day (1:59:01). “I did the bike by myself and the run by myself. It was just my day.”
Billouin crossed the line in 3:11:05, 1:43 clear of big Italian hope Sandra Mairhofer while Frenchwoman Alizee Paties rounded out the women’s podium, albeit more than seven and a half minutes down on Billouin.
“I don’t know what to say, I thought if I made the podium it would be a very good day, and then I won it. It’s crazy, I didn’t imagine this. And I’m really happy because the prize money will help me focus on my athlete life more.”