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DUATHLON 15 September 2003, 12:00 AM

Docherty wins Zofingen long distance duathlon title

Taupo’s Fiona Docherty has followed in the footsteps of the great Erin Baker in winning the arduous Powerman Zofingen long distance duathlon in Switzerland today.

Docherty, in her first attempt at the race considered the toughest of all endurance events, displayed considerable poise and purpose to grab the lead just 3kms from the finish.

Christchurch’s Mark Bailey, the national duathlon champion, finished 11th in the men’s race in his first attempt over the long distance.

The Zofingen event, the unofficial world long distance duathlon championship, is a gruelling event decided over a 10km run, 150km bike over some challenging hills and final 30km run, also on a hilly course on mountain forest tracks.

In a race dominated over the years by Europeans Baker has claimed the Zofingen title twice while Debbie Nelson won in 1999. It is Docherty’s first major international victory, following closely on from the success of her brother Bevan, who is ranked No 3 in the world for triathlon.

Fiona Docherty was just the fourth woman to win the event at the first try - the others being Ironman world champions Erin Baker, Lori Bowden and Natascha Badmann.

It has capped a remarkable campaign for Docherty, who has moved up to the endurance distance in both triathlon and duathlon with considerable success. She had several podium placings in the United States before winning an international triathlon in Germany last month, and finishing sixth at the world duathlon championships in Switzerland two weeks ago.

However the jump to the long distance on such challenging terrain was new territory for Docherty, who last week gave credit for her international improvement to her new coach this year, former two time world triathlon champion Jenny Rose.

Docherty raced conservatively over the first 10km run, finishing in the chase bunch 2min 30sec down on pre-race favourite and world duathlon champion Tina Walter (Germany).

Walter rode strongly opening a 5min 30sec gap on second placed Erika Csomor (Hungary), with the Kiwi more than nine minutes behind in fifth. However Docherty pegged the deficit back to 8min 10sec at the end of the 150km cycle, as Walter’s lead shrank to just 55secs to the highly rated Hungarian.

Csomor, the 2001 world short course duathlon champion, grabbed the lead just 4km into the demanding 30km run, with Docherty moving into third place halfway through the first 15km lap. She closed the gap to the leader to just 2min 35sec after the first lap, and with 7.5km remaining was only 55 seconds behind Csomor.

Docherty retained her momentum to grab the lead 3kms from the end, finishing 42 seconds ahead of Csomor in 7hr 37min 47sec, with Scotland’s Bella Comerford, the reigning Ironman Florida champion, third.

The Kiwi will take a well-earned break before returning home to prepare for the SBS World Triathlon Championships in Queenstown in December.

Meanwhile in the United States Kapiti Coast triathlete Evelyn Williamson has finished fifth in the Pacific Grove International triathlon in California.

It was the third strong performance in as many weeks from Williamson, who was sixth in the Chicago Triathlon and fifth in the Los Angeles triathlon. The race was won by world No 8 ranked Becky Gibbs Lavelle (USA) ahead of world No 3 Jill Savege (Canada).

Taupo’s Bryan Rhodes was seventh in the men’s race won by four-time world champion Simon Lessing (Great Britain).


Powerman Zofingen Long Distance Duathlon (10km run 150km bike 30km run):

Women: Fiona Docherty (New Zealand) 7:37.47, 1; Erika Csomor (Hungary) 7:38.29, 2; Bella Comerford (Great Britain) 7:39.40, 3.

Men: Stefan Riesen (Switzerland) 6:28.45, 1; Benny Van Steelant (Belgium) 6:30.54, 2; Huub Maas (Germany) 6:32.24, 3; Mark Bailey (New Zealand) 6:51.35, 11.

Pacific Grove International Triathlon (1.5k swim 40k bike 10k run):

Women: Becky Gibbs Lavelle (USA) 2:02.54, 1; Jill Savege (Canada) 2:05.40, 2; Julie Swail (USA_ 2:07.27, 3; Evelyn Williamson (New Zealand) 2:10.49, 5.

Men: Simon Lessing (UK) 1:50.42, 1; Doug Firman (USA) 1:53.06, 2; Victor Plata (USA) 1:53.22, 3; Bryan Rhodes (New Zealand) 1:57.11, 7.



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