Durkin feeling at home among local elite
Maddie Durkin finally believes she belongs alongside the top local female triathletes after successfully defending her Aon Bermuda National Sprint Triathlon Championships crown at Clearwater Beach yesterday.
Exiting the water as one of the women’s leaders in 13min 40sec, Durkin showed her prowess on the bike with an impressive 32:19 ride to further extend her advantage over last year’s runner-up Louise Wells.
Holding a lead of a little more than three minutes, Durkin refused to rest on her laurels and powered to the line with a 21:26 run to hold off the challenge of Wells and take the top honours in 1:8:27. Wells had to settle for a successive second-place finish in 1:11:13, with Christine Dailey completing the podium in 1:12:51.
For Durkin, the victory not only brought pride but also a sense of vindication and acceptance as a bona fide champion.
“I had a good race and the most pleasing thing was the run for me,” Durkin said. “Normally it’s one of my weakest elements, but it felt good and I don’t have any complaints.
“I grew up a pool swimmer and so for me it’s a battle every time I swim in the open water. People think it’s an easy transition from the pool to the open water but it’s really not, they’re completely different.
“It was a matter of not panicking and just being steady, being over a shorter distance was more manageable, but I think most of the athletes will agree on being relieved to get the swimming out of the way.
“I knew I had a pretty good lead, but I was well aware of Louise being my main competition because she’s a great athlete. You don’t really know you’re going to win it until you’ve crossed that line.
“You have to push yourself until the very end and that’s what I tried to do. It’s always great to win a national championship and it’s fabulous to have that title.
“However, for me it’s more amazing to be considered alongside real champions like Ashley Couper and Karen Smith; it’s nice to feel I’m in the realms of those guys and it proves a point in some ways.”
Meanwhile, Alan Potts managed to reclaim the men’s title he last won in 2017, but he was made to work for it by Geoff Smith, Byron Renken and Matt Thompson.
Smith proved the early leader out the water in 12:51, closely followed by Renken and Thompson, with Potts slightly under a 1½ minute behind. Potts also lost a further 30 seconds heading into the bike discipline after a poor transition.
Smith showed his prowess on the bike in blustery conditions, pulling clear on the 20-kilometre course to exit the final transition with a healthy lead of over two minutes over Thompson.
However, disaster struck for Smith, who was denied what seemingly looked like victory after a recurring calf injury forced him to pull out of the race during the run.
Despite entering the final discipline behind Thompson and Renken, Potts came into his own, reeling in and overhauling his rivals to wipe out the deficit and race clear to finish in 1:6:09. Renken managed to hold off Thompson for second place in 1:6:38 with the latter settling for third in 1:07:17.
There were impressive performances in the 60 and over age-group category, with Kent Richardson finishing seventh overall from the entire field in 1:11:10 and 69-year-old Charlie Duffy crossing the line in 1:24:23. However, in the battle of the spouses Maria Duffy, 67, finished just 24 seconds ahead of Charlie in 1:24:23 to take the 60 and over women’s honours.
The first team over the line was made up of Brian Desmond, Nicholas and Alex Pilgrim in 1:3:06 to win the men’s team division.
Aon made up of Eileen Mullowney, Brian Lynch and Edwin Kariuki were the company team winners in 1:16:19, while Caroline Wright and Jen Lightbourne overcame their recent Ironman 70.3 race fatigue to team up with runner Erica McArthur to take female team honours in 1:13:31. Cora Lee Starzomski and Toby and Bella Wright were the mixed team winners in 1:6:20.
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