Portsmouth Duathlon delivers fantastic Easter finale as Collins saves best to last and Stokes wraps up dominant success

Neil Collins and Kelly Stokes completed the Portsmouth Duathlon Series in style to be crowned overall champions after a superb Easter Sunday thriller.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 5:09 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 9:43 pm
Neil Collins and Christopher Tildesley at the front of the first leg 10k with Rob Arkell in pursuit. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

They were both in flying form throughout the event hosted by the Believe & Achieve team but some of the best was saved until last.

Stokes had a commanding lead going into the final race and she protected it well, finishing first lady in 1hr 48min 35sec for the 10k run, 24k bike and 5k run.

She was pushed really hard on the day by defending series champion Victoria Ayriss who finished the last event in second place only 24 seconds back (1.48.59) and that saw her snatch second overall as well by a margin of just two seconds.

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Portsmouth Duathlon Series podium: Neil Collins, centre, with Kris Nicholson, left, and Rob Arkell, right. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Collins had to overturn a deficit on Rob Arkell going into the race three and he set himself on the way to that with a brilliant first 10k of 35min 28sec.

This was followed by a sensational bike leg – a minute and 35 seconds faster than anyone else on the day, then a fast second run of 17.47 for the 5k to complete the race in 1.30.22.

Arkell chased all the way and finished second on the day (1.32.22) to complete a good series second place having competed so strongly throughout.

Organiser Rob Piggott said: ‘It was a brilliant day with fantastic weather again, you couldn’t ask for better. Everyone enjoyed it.

Portsmouth Duathlon Series champion Kelly Stokes, centre, with Esther Wiley, left, and Victoria Ayriss. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

‘Neil saved the best to last. He raced really well and he had a winning margin of two minutes on Sunday which is a big gap in the duathlons.

‘The seafront was a little bit crowded. I know Rob Arkell was held up by a bit of traffic on his bike leg. Neil and Rob have battled really well at the front together.

‘Kelly Stokes was super strong throughout the series. She won by a big margin but Victoria Ayriss gave her a run for her money in the final race and she managed to take second place in the series.’

Collins, from Southsea, finished with a total time of 3.45.58 for the series with Arkell second in 3.47.52 and Kris Nicholson completing the podium in 3.56.18.

The ladies’ series saw Stokes win in 4.24.45 with Ayriss second in 4.31.09 and Esther Wiley third in 4.31.11.