Jack Moody captured his first big XTERRA win on Saturday – and could now look to follow in the footsteps on fellow New Zealander Hayden Wilde and target the World Championship.
Moody was the winner of Challenge Wanaka recently ahead of subsequent IRONMAN New Zealand hero Mike Phillips and German legend Sebastian Kienle.
And he came out on top at the 19th annual XTERRA Rotorua Festival off-road triathlon, taking the elite men’s title in 2:06:16 in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand’s North Island while Australia’s Maeve Kennedy landed the women’s race in 2:26:35.
It’s the first big XTERRA win for Moody and the third for Kennedy, who also won at XTERRA Wellington two weeks ago.
Osborne a tough man to beat
Sam Osborne – who had won the previous four editions of this race – was first out of the water alongside David Martin and those two set the pace on the bike.
“David and I got out of Blue Lake and I went all chips in, because I know how fast Jack can run,” said Osborne. “Maybe I went too hard on the bike, because I got a split that I was more than one-minute up at one stage but was surprised to see it was only 35-seconds coming into T2. At the start of the run, I thought I was in a bit of trouble because Jack is one of the fastest runners in the sport, and I think he showed a masterclass on the run today.”
Moody came out of the water more than one-minute behind Osborne and Martin, but was confident in his abilities to come back having posted wins at Challenge Wanaka and IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo recently.
“I got myself into a bit of trouble at the first buoy, just got caught up in it and took in a lot of water and kind of freaked myself out a little bit. It’s the first time it’s happened and a gap formed and it was a pretty lonely swim there,” said Moody.
“But I know how fit I am on the bike and run at the moment, and know it’s a long enough day out there and things can happen so I was pleasantly surprised when I caught David on the bike and just pushed on from there.”
Running masterclass from Moody
Osborne took the lead into the run, but Moody was quick to catch and pass him.
“I thought Sam had ridden way ahead of me so when I saw it was just 30 seconds I got after it real hard,” said Moody, who posted the fastest run of the day by nearly three minutes. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt that good on the run here before. I know the Blue Lake well, so to just really get after it today was awesome.”
Perhaps even more impressive than posting the fastest run was that Moody also had the fastest bike split of the day, and to out-tick Osborne on his home course (even if only by 45-seconds) says a lot.
“Absolutely over the moon with the win, especially with all the legends of the sport that have won it in the past, it’s a really special feeling, and what an awesome event. I always love the XTERRA family and vibe,” said Moody. “I love mountain biking, it’s where I started, but it’s really hard for me to squeeze it in with the season of 70.3 and IRONMAN racing, but if I can get more of it into the calendar then XTERRA World Champs could be a goal this year.”
Osborne did all he could on the run to finish in second place, while Kieran McPherson finished two minutes back in third place.
Kennedy comes out on top
On the women’s side, Kennedy survived another tight race against XTERRA Asia-Pacific standouts Samantha Kingsford and Lizzie Orchard from New Zealand.
“It was tough, Samantha definitely gave me a run for my money,” said Kennedy. “We played it together on the bike for a while until Samantha pulled away from me a little bit. I just had her in sight and hoped I could hold onto her until the run to hunt her down.”
And for the second time in two weeks, Kennedy did just that.
“As I was going into T2, Samantha was heading out onto the run. I believe it was a 30-second lead, but I gave it my all and started hunting. I could see her ahead as we ran around the beautiful Blue Lake, and by the 2km mark we were together and I worked on trying to extend a lead. I am absolutely stoked, it was an incredible race.”
Kingsford held on for second, and after the race, said, “Hats off to Maeve, she’s running really well at the moment. I was really happy with my swim, both Maeve and I managed to hang onto Hannah Howell, which was good. I knew I had to put the hammer down on the bike but Maeve was always hot on my heels and then coming into transition to go onto the run I saw her and thought “ah no, here we go.”
Lizzie Orchard rounded out the top three.