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It might have been a case of something old, something borrowed, something blue, for Dunedin student Hamish Fleming when he won the Otago duathlon championship at Mosgiel yesterday.
Being a student of limited means, Fleming had to borrow aero bars and a helmet to compete and, while proud of his comparatively modest bike, he takes good-natured banter about it in his stride. His bike and racing attire are mainly blue.
But Fleming proved to the championship field yesterday it was not the bike, but who was riding it, that makes the difference, with a dominant performance in both the running and cycling stages of the 10km run, 40km bike, 5km run event. He had a 43sec lead at the transition to the cycle stage, and held out determined challenges behind him to hold a 1min 6sec lead going into the 5km run. He completed the course in 2hr 5min 41sec.
Guy Carter overcame severe cramping to hold out a late charge from Neville Thorn to clinch second in 2hr 8min 22sec, with Thorn third in 2hrs 9min 3sec.
Fleming (21) tinkered with multisport before becoming head boy at New Plymouth Boys' High, but then left his athletic endeavours on hold until last year, when he decided to train for the Coast to Coast, finishing the two-day section of the event in February 11th overall.
While training last year, he contested such events as the Dunedin Marathon as well the Hill Free Half Marathon with midfield results. But since his Coast to Coast result earlier this year, his performances have dramatically improved, with victories in the team section of the Otago Triathlon championships, an eighth place in the Dunedin half marathon two weeks ago and a top performance in the team section of a rogaine event in Wanaka last weekend.
Finances and study commitments mean Fleming is unlikely to return to the Coast to Coast until 2013, and instead take the time to hone his skills in smaller community-based events.
"Doing the Longest Day is definitely on my bucket list," Fleming said of his future Coast to Coast plans.
First-year university student and Otago Triathlon Academy recruit Lisa Rush was in a class of her own when she dominated the open women's section, winning in a time of 2hr 16min 17sec, with Amelia Kinnaird second in 2hr 31min 56sec and Bronte Tennant third in 2hr 46min 22sec.
Rush (18) continued to build on a 4min 30sec lead she took into the cycle stage and, by her own admission, it was just then a matter of "hanging on". Her toughest opponent was the icy headwind along the back of the course.