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Smith and Richardson win age groups

Winners: Kent Richardson and Karen Smith with their first-place plaques after winning their respective age groups at the Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico

Karen Smith and Kent Richardson won their respective age groups at the Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico in touch conditions at the weekend.

Smith was first in the 50-54 age group, the sixth women’s finisher and 76th overall in a time of 4hr 56min 24sec, while Richardson clocked 5:14:41 to take the 60-64 age group title, finishing 128th overall.

The performances qualified both triathletes for the 70.3 World Championships in Nice, France, in September.

“It was a great day for both Kent and myself,” Smith said. “Conditions at the race were challenging. It was hot and humid, so that always makes it harder.”

Smith had splits of 30.48, 2:36.22 and 1:42.56.

“I had a great build-up going into the race and felt like I had some reasonable fitness this early in the season,” she said. “The swim was great and I led my wave, which is unusual for me, but I felt strong and was happy with my time.

“I had been working extra on my bike lately and it paid off with a fast bike split. The bike course was flat but very windy along the coastline.

“The run is really the hardest part of this race. It’s a hilly course with no shade anywhere. Although my run time wasn’t where I thought it could be, it was solid in those conditions.”

Smith added: “My age group was small but competitive. I was sixth female overall across all age groups, so I am pretty happy with that.”

Richardson had a time of 34.44 on the swim, 2:31.53 on the bike and 2:00.23 on the run.

“I had some success in this distance years ago but never a first place,” he said. “I did not know I was leading until Aaron Smith [Karen’s husband] informed me as I started the run.

“When he said, ‘Stay calm, you’ve got this’ I was a little surprised, thinking there’s guys ahead of me! The key to this race was to see if my nutrition and my method of training would give me a solid result. I’m extremely happy with the preparation for the 70.3 Puerto Rico.

“Late last year I ran a 10-miler and it went really good. It planted the idea of attacking the 70.3 [distance] again.”