Poole, Warriner top Port of Tauranga

Michael Poole combined a consistent swim, bike and run to carve out a 1:39 margin of victory over runner-up James Bowstead while 2008 ITU season points champion Samantha Warriner used a race-best run to overtake Swiss half iron star Caroline Steffen by just 18 seconds to win the elite divisions of the 18th Port of Tauranga Half Ironman Saturday in New Zealand.

Poole broke out of the swim 45 seconds behind 2008 winner Kieran Doe with a 4th-best 25:58, broke into the lead with a third-best 2:09:51 bike, and held off James Bowstead and the rest of the field with a sixth-best 1:18:34 half marathon to hit the line in 3:56:33.

Poole’s time was 8:39 slower than Nathan Richmond’s 2006 course record.

Bowstead started 2:57 back of Poole on the swim, made up 2:22 on the bike, but surrendered 2:10 on the run to take second in 3:58:12. Australia’s young Ironman star Tim Berkel surrendered 2:47 on the swim, 4:31 more on the bike, so his race- best 1:14:29 run could only bring him back to third place, 28 seconds back of Bowstead.

Doe dropped out after a 5th-best 2:10:10 bike.

Warriner, the 2005 and 2009 Port of Tauranga champion, started off with a 5th best swim, 2:12 back of 2006 and 2007 Port of Tauranga winner Jo Lawn, 90 seconds back of Megan Blackett and 62 seconds back of Ironman 70.3 World Championship 4th place finisher Caroline Steffen of Switzerland. Warriner’s 4th-best 2:24:08 bike brought her into T2 behind Lawn, Blackett and Steffen.

But Warriner’s race-best 1:21:59 run caught Steffen and her 1:25:01 half marathon within a few hundred meters of the finish. Rebekah Keat, the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Port of Tauranga winner, placed third in 4:19:10, Jo Lawn was 4th in 4:21:19 and Megan Blackett took 5th in 4:24:02

Warriner’s 4:17:04 finish was 18 seconds ahead of Steffen, but 6:17 behind her own course record set last year.

Port of Tauranga Half Ironman
Tauranga, New Zealand
January 9, 2010
S 1.2mi/ B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.

Elite Men

1. Michael Poole (NZL) 3:56:33
2. James Bowstead (NZL) 3:58:12
3. Tim Berkel (AUS) 3:58:40
4. Brodie Madgwick (NZL) 3:59:35
5. Mark Bowstead (NZL) 4:03:34
6. Jamie Whyte (NZL) 4:05:58
7. Liam Scopes (NZL) 4:06:10
8. Andrew Mackay (NZL) 4:06:26
9. Michael Kelly (NZL) 4:06:51
10. Rob Creasy (NZL) 4:10:56

Elite Women

1. Sam Warriner (NZL) 4:17:04
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:17:22
3. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 4:19:10
4. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:21:19
5. Megan Blackett (NZL) 4:24:02
6. Britta Martin (NZL) 4:25:03
7. Kate Bevilaqua (AUS) 4:29:56
8. Belinda Harper (NZL) 4:31:42
9. Ali Fitch (AUS) 4:32:54
10. Sarah Bryant (NZL) 4:47:10