By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
The Aussies are coming and Manawatu Triathlon League (MTL) race director Mark Evans needs you, Dear elite and age-group Kiwis, to be part of the “Palmy North” welcoming party.
Joshua Ferris, Callum McClusky and Emma Olson-Keating headline a speedy young Australian Grand Prix Triathlon (AGPT) Series contingent en route to the 3rd edition of the novel MTL from December 16-18.
Ferris will arrive fresh from winning last weekend’s Asia Triathlon Cup Ipoh in Malaysia and while Evans has attracted the likes of Sam Parry, Luke Scott, Madison Keightley and the Martin brothers David and Adam, he’d love to add some elite entry starch to give the Aussies even more to think about.
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The MTL incorporates four different events over three days with the champion in U13, U16, U19 and U23/Elite categories decided by the lowest cumulative time. There’s a cash carrot for the U23/Elites as well with $1000, $750, $500, $200 and $100 cheques for the top five.
Evans hopes the cash incentives and innovative format might bring a few big names out of the woodwork for one final pre-Christmas hit-out ahead of the lunchtime December 15 entry deadline.
“Come and race the Aussies and see if you can get a grand just before Christmas,” said Evans before extending his sales pitch to age groupers.
“We’re not all about the seriousness and winning of it, we’re all about having a bit of fun and talking a bit of smack along the way. Keeping it fun is our plan.”
Part of the Tri NZ Junior Triathlon Series, the MTL opens on Friday, December 16 with the Toot Kit Palmy Prologue on the 3km Chris Amon Circuit at Manfield in Feilding. The U23/Elites will face the longest test with 50-metre runs either side of a 15km cycle.
Saturday, December 17 sees the Zone 3 AquaRace Swim and the Manawatu Mile running race. The latter is a collaboration with the P Norty Invitational Elite Road Mile on leafy Centennial Drive while the swim will take place in a man-made wakeboarding lake near Bunnythrope. The AquaRace will again test the athletes’ transition skills with wetsuits to be jettisoned after the first leg of the swim-run-swim-run (600m-0.9km-600m-0.3km for the u23/Elites) stage.
The weekend concludes with the Palmy Enduro, a Super League-Esque duathlon held entirely within the confines of the CET Arena. The Enduro includes five stages and four transitions and will put a particular emphasis on bike handling with the 1.3km bike loop featuring one 180° and two tight 90° turns.
The U23/Elites will complete two laps of the 900m run circuit, six laps of the bike loop, two further run laps and six more bike loops before a final 900m sprint to the final tape.
It’s unique racing for New Zealand and Evans hopes it will appeal.
“The one thing that Palmy does lack, like Taupo and Tauranga have, we don’t have somewhere sexy to have an open water swim so we’ve just got to make it up in other ways.”
Interesting racing is guaranteed thanks to the distinctive format and venues made available courtesy of support from Palmerston North City Council and Central Energy Trust Arena. Evans is also indebted to funding partners Sport Manawatu, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, CEDA, Palmerston North City Council, Manawatu District Council and EuroCar Suzuki Palmerston North.
Full details, including all age-group distances and the online entry form, can be found at manawatutrifestival.nz