Triathlon: Slack weathers tough conditions to claim Pacific victory
JACQUI Slack continued her rich vein of form by capturing first place in the Xterra extreme triathlon when the world tour moved to the Pacific island of Saipan.
Slack, who had picked up a fourth-placed finish in the Philippines last week, conquered difficult conditions to claim her third Xterra victory and lay down a marker for a shot at the championship outright.
The firefighter, from Bradeley, encountered a strong current in the 1,500-metre swim, torrential rain in the 30km cycle ride and a slippery 10km running course, but still managed to cross the line in a time of 3hrs 6mins 0secs.
That was more than six minutes clear of runner-up Carina Wasle (3:13.30) and more than 10 minutes faster than seven-time Xterra champion Renata Bucher (3:16.49).
Slack's Australian boyfriend, Ben Allen, won the men's race in 2:36.36, just five seconds off the course record he set in winning last year's event.
"I was a bit disappointed not to win this race last year, so it felt great to cross the line first this time," she said.
"It's nice to celebrate with Ben too, as we really wanted to win together again after topping the podiums at the Xterra New Zealand last year."
Slack got off to a good start, and was sixth out of the water overall and first woman as she covered two laps off Macro Beach in 22.54. She added: "The water was a bit rough with the strong current, but I felt stronger after that leg."
Heavy rain poured down as she headed up Navy Hill on her bike, crashing a couple of times as she braved the downhill of Mount Tapochau.
The 29-year-old posted 1:42.59 in the middle section, stretching her lead over pre-race favourite Bucher to six minutes.
"I was worried Renata and Carina would catch up, so I kept pushing and pushing," she said.
"My technique in biking and running has improved this year, so that helped me build up a good lead."
Wasle, from Austria, produced the fastest run, overtaking Bucher, but she never managing to get near Slack.
Bucher said: "The bike leg was really tough and I didn't want to risk a lot because the season has just started. It was really dangerous out there.
"Hats off to Jacqui, who did an awesome job."
Slack and Allen are two of the first elite triathletes to sign up for a new Xterra England event, which will be held in Surrey in September.
She said: "I'm so excited to have Xterra back in the UK.
"It's a sport that offers me a unique opportunity to travel around the world, and visit some of the most beautiful places.
"Now I have the opportunity to showcase to everyone the place I like to call home. It's going to be a race like no other where the whole family can see what Xterra is all about."