Defending champion Karen Smith and former winner and last year’s second place finisher Jonny Herring will start as favorites for tomorrow’s Catlin National Olympic Distance Triathlon Championships.
Last year Jonny Herring was comfortably second to Tyler Butterfield but this year faces tough competition from a number of experienced triathletes with the podium positions difficult to predict. Mark Robinson, third last year,Mark Wilcox, fresh from his excellent 70.3 performance in Puerto Rico and 2nd in last year’s Bank of Bermuda Triathlon, Neil de ste Croix, winner of last year’s Bank of Bermuda Triathlon and a multiple national champion and 26 year old Chris Hands, 3rd in last year’s Bank of Bermuda are three to watch with Hands my “dark horse” pick for the overall win. Also likely to feature are Neil Lupsic, Geoff Smith and Matt Thompson. Lupsic, a renowed cyclist and solid runner, also has the ability to take overall honours if all goes right for him and Smith’s powerful bike will put him amongst the leaders off the bike although his inability to run much due to injury could well hamper his chances of a podium finish. Thompson has been a consistent top five performer and will also be looking to podium. Karl Wilson will likely be out of the water either first or close to Jonny Herring but may struggle to make the top five although he is capable of being there or thereabouts. And then ofcourse there is the seemingly ageless Kent Richardson, 6th last year at 55 and still going strong who will also be in the mix.
Karen Smith has been the dominant athlete locally for many years now and barring a mishap should comfortable retain her title, a title she has won on numerous occasions. Veteran Julia Hawley should be Smith’s nearest challenger. Second place finisher Laurie Orchard had not entered this year’s championships. Martina Olcheski – Bell, who had an excellent race in the recent Puerto Rico 70.3 should have good early season form and is my favorite for a podium finish and may even take 2nd place on the day. Belinda Castree and
Kristen Palmer, 4th and 5th respectively last year, will also be podium contenders.
The championships over 1500 meter swim, 40km bike and 10km run get underway at Clearwater Beach, St. Davids at 9.30AM and will run concurrently with a sprint triathlon ( see following preview), which is not the national championships, and will be preceded by junior triathlons at 8AM. This year’s Catlin Olympic Distance Triathlon Championships are particularly important because they will serve as a qualifier for the Age Group Triathlon World Championships in Chicago in September 2015 with qualifying criteria / times for each age group published on the Bermuda Triathlon Association website at http://www.bta.bm