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Ironman captures the highs and lows

JESS LEE
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2013
Ironman
MARK TAYLOR

IRONMAN DETAILS: Ironman 70.3 is a half iron-distance triathlon consisting of a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run.

Kurt Brandon
JESS LEE
CANDID CAMERA: Former Ironman photographer Kurt Brandon captured the highs and lows of the gruelling triathlons from Auckland’s first event in 1985 until the 1990s.

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Each Ironman 70.3 Auckland competitor, whether they be world champion triathletes or everyday Kiwis, has a story behind how they came to stand at that starting line.

And former Ironman photographer Kurt Brandon has seen it all.

The Freemans Bay resident was the original photographer for the Ironman New Zealand races as Auckland became the event's first international venue in 1985, playing host for 14 years before it moved to Taupo.

Mr Brandon photographed the race until the mid 1990s and has stepped across the finish line as a competitor in 1987, 1989 and 2009.

The 46-year-old will be competing in the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Auckland on Sunday treading parts of the original Ironman course from 1985.

"One of the great things about not racing and having access to the course is you got to see a lot of athletes from the front and back of the pack. So you saw some big smiles and some real pain," he says.

"It's a hugely individual event and there are hundreds of stories out there for why someone would want to be out on the course for eight or 16 hours."

A highlight for Mr Brandon was snapping former professional triathlete and two-time winner of the Hawaii Ironman event Scott Tinley sitting on a road side.

"He'd pulled out and had had a guts-full."

Being the first on the scene to crashes involving leading competitors was also an eye-opener, he says.

"Everyone has their own goals and that's what the Ironman and half-Ironman events are really good for. They allow people to push themselves to their own limits."

This weekend's race is Auckland's inaugural Ironman 70.3 event and the first time the triathlon has gone over the Harbour Bridge.

The 70.3 refers to the total distance in miles (113 kilometres) covered in the race.

The event is the official Asia Pacific Ironman Championship and there will be 30 qualifying spots to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

Ironman 70.3 Auckland manager Janette Blyth is excited about the event and its future.

"Like Ironman New Zealand, we believe it will become a must-do event for both international visitors and Kiwis."

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- Auckland City Harbour News

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