IT WAS a dramatic start to the Portsmouth Duathlon Series.
Hugh MacKenzie, a former Great Britain champion, took the victory.
His scorching first run took him ahead of a super-talented chasing pack. The order changed on the bike before he then used his speed on the second run to see off his rivals.
The winning time was 1hr 1min 32sec for the 5k run, 15k cycle, 5k run.
High-calibre Ironman racer Rob Arkell, from Fareham, took second position (1.01.45) and has put himself right to the fore in the race for the overall series now.
Third was Ben Terry as he completed the podium (1.01.57).
Defending champion Piotr Meller raced well to finish fourth (1.02.13), with Southsea’s Great Britain age-group triathlon star Neil Collins in fifth position (1.03.40).
It was such a thrilling race with a packed entry list and lots of drama to keep the spectators enthused as they watched on a cold but sunny morning in Southsea.
The race to be first lady was even closer with Kelly Stokes, of Portsmouth Triathletes, taking the win (1.13.21) as Victoria Ayriss, who trains with the Endurance Hub, was edged into second place (1.13.23).
Rebecca Hughes, of Portsmouth Triathletes, took third spot (1.17.59).
Organiser Rob Piggott was very happy with the start to the series.
He said: ‘We had lots of twists and turns, it never ceases to amaze me the things that happen in the duathlon races.
‘It’s exciting and good for people to come along and watch.
‘The competition was very strong, Hugh MacKenzie got the victory and he comes from Over Wallop in Hampshire.
‘I think people see the amount of talent we have in the races and want to come along and compete against them.
‘Piotr did well again as defending champion. He had a good race and the others are certainly keeping him on his toes.
‘Rob Arkell showed how fast he is with a very good second place and he is booked in for the whole series.
‘Ben Terry, Piotr and Neil Collins have all been battling it out at the front of our duathlon races now and they know each other. There was nothing really to separate those first five.
‘There’s great camaraderie between everyone and it is such a good atmosphere.
‘Yes it was cold but we had the sunshine and that makes a big difference.
‘It’s early in the season and everyone is a little bit rusty but they all enjoyed the race.’
The duathlon series is always a good opening to the multi-sport season and many newcomers take part. Everyone enjoys plenty of support and there is always lots of encouragement.
It’s a fast flat course around the seafront and is a good way to get active and have fun.
Entries are still available for the next two races.
The second one takes place on Sunday, March 25 and the final event of the season is on Sunday, April 15.