'Young' gun aims to beat oldies
Racing as the young gun in his age group is an incentive for 79-year-old triathlete Alec Hill to sign up for another season.
Next year Hill moves into the 80 to 84 age-group - a category few male triathletes contest at the world championships.
Although his odds of winning his first world title will increase, Hill is just happy when he crosses the finish line.
The camaraderie and the competition keep Hill involved in the sport he first took up nearly 30 years ago to help rehabilitate a broken hip.
"Each year there are more and more old buggers," he says.
"You never know who will turn up."
The Devonport resident says he has been lucky to avoid the injuries that some of his friends have endured after being knocked off their bikes, and credits outlasting some of his contemporaries with keeping active.
The North Harbour Triathlon Club member's final year in the 75-79 age-group was a successful one.
In his fifth world championships appearance in Auckland in October he was on the podium twice.
He finished second in the swim/run aquathon event and second in the sprint distance triathlon.
Kiwis claimed 47 age-group medals at the Auckland event, to tie New Zealand and Australia at the top of the medal table.
The only downside for Hill with the world event being hosted here was that it was held on the same weekend as his birthday and celebratory drinks were put on hold until all his racing was completed.
Triathlon has taken Hill around the world to places like Vancouver and Madeira.
He he says he wouldn't have ventured there if it weren't for the sport, which has accounted for some memorable - and unusual - experiences.
Hill's first world championships was in Edmonton, Canada, in 2001 and because of a lack of waterways in the prairies, a duck pond had to be cleaned out so it could be used for the swimming leg.
Next year's world champs are in London in September and Hill hopes to join some of his clubmates there to race on the same course used by this year's Olympians.
He says stricter rules and regulations around hosting events, introduced in the early 2000s, have reduced the number of smaller local races on offer, but he still enjoys North Harbour Tri Club's swim-run series, and racing in the Contact Tri Series in Takapuna and Kinloch.
Although a gold medal has proven elusive, Hill has no big goals to tick off - he just wants to keep moving.
North Shore Times