Couper roars to victory
Ashley Couper grasped her moment to shine on the big stage with an emphatic victory at Saturday’s MS Amlin World Triathlon Age Group races in Hamilton.
The Bermudian battled through the pain barrier en route to winning the individual women’s Olympic Distance race in 2hr 19min 55sec.
Couper thrust herself in early contention with a solid swim and surged into the lead on the third lap on the bike where she remained the rest of the way.
“It went really well,” Couper, who was sixth overall, said. “I really enjoyed it and there were so many people out supporting which is really great to see and the course is very spectator friendly.
”I had a good swim for me because it’s not my strong thing so a really good swim and then the bike I just loved that bike course and really enjoyed that. Some people have sent me pictures on the bike and I’m smiling like an absolute idiot.
“The run was pretty brutal because I haven’t been able to train because of my Achilles injury so I just had to go out there and run with heart but it was good.”
Couper pulled off an impressive double as she also won honours in the 40-49 age group.
“I really didn’t know I had won,” she said. “There were a few people I was looking out for on the local scene that know are great swimmers and strong bikers and doing well with their running. But it was really hard to tell where people are because the different age groups started at different times and there are so many loops so I just put my head down and tried to do my best.
“Then of course the international people coming in for the race. There were a lot of them which puts a different spin on it because we know each other here but have no idea what to expect from others coming here.”
Couper’s appearance was her last for the season as she is scheduled to have surgery for her Achilles injury this week.
“I need to get it done so this was kind of like my swansong for the season and I’m glad it went well and feel good about it,” she said. “I need to get it done because I have been struggling with it for five years now.
“Running is my love and I hope that after the surgery I will be able to run like I love to do again. But we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Couper’s compatriot, Karen Smith, clinched the women’s 50-59 age group in the Olympic-distance race in 2:30:43.
Meanwhile, Ross McGraw, of the United States, survived a late scare to claim the individual men’s Olympic Distance title in 2:10:31.
McGraw initially crossed the finish line thinking he had completed the run but to his horror was told he had another lap to do. However, such was the American’s lead that he was able to complete the final lap without being overtaken.
“It was so beautiful here I needed to stop and check out the scenery and then go a bit more for my run,” McGraw grinned. “I enjoyed it so much and got super excited at the end and thought maybe I was done a bit sooner and went for one more lap.
“I thought maybe I blew it but then when I heard second placed guy was still behind me I turned it on. I figured I had a nice break and could save it so I pushed hard.”
Local expat Phil Mace demonstrated tremendous sportsmanship after finishing runner up behind McGraw and first in the men’s 40-49 age group in 2:12:35.
“Unfortunately he had to finish and restart again but I’m glad he still won,” Mace said. “If I had caught him on his last lap I would have let him win because he was way ahead. We would pass each and give each other high fives and stuff so he definitely deserved to win.”
Overseas duo Dallas Handy and Meagan Ritacco claimed the individual men’s and women’s titles in the sprint race.
“I was very pleased with my performance today,” Handy, who lives in North Carolina, said. “I love the course and love Bermuda. It’s my first time and her and it’s very beautiful.”
Bermuda’s Nicholas Pilgrim and Tucker Murphy filled the remaining two spots on the men’s podium.
Pilgrim took second in 1:09:09 and multiple Winter Olympian Murphy third in 1:09:48.
Bermuda’s Neil de ste Croix was first in the men’s 50-59 age group in 1:12.28 and was followed by another local Kent Richardson, who crossed in second in 1:17.55.
Team Tammy’s Team won the Olympic Relay in 2:12:54 and Team Worth A Tri the Sprint Relay in 1:01:19.