Island-hopping to race events

01:37, Jan 04 2013
SHOW OF SUPPORT: Families get behind their favourites in the 2011 Nelson Mail Team Triathlon.

Today I'm in Tauranga - Mt Maunganui, to be precise.

A year ago I did my first half ironman race in Wanaka. The Wanaka race is huge when it comes to Nelson support. It'll be the same this year, even more so, as people have stepped up from the sprint race to half ironman, and from that race to the full distance event.

So as far as having a good time with friends goes, Wanaka will be the place to be in two weeks' time.

I'll be a lot lonelier at the Mt Maunganui half ironman race. A scan through the competitor list doesn't reveal a single person from Nelson - except me.

I chose that race, as I'm in a new age group, 65-69, and I wanted to see how I'd go in the national championship event.

On paper it doesn't look good. Two wonderful athletes from Rotorua will be in the starting lineup for my age group and I don't think I can beat either of them. One of them won this event in my age group last year and the other looks even quicker.


Nevertheless, in an event over this distance anything could happen. I can only swim, bike and run my own race - I can't control theirs.

To get the best result, it's not just about speed, but about management of resources.

My gear's in good shape, I won't be trying any new clothing, equipment or nutrition on race day. I'll go out at a speed I'm pretty sure I can sustain for 5-6 hours and keep my fingers crossed that I can finish strongly without leaving anything in the tank as I cross the line.

In a week's time we go on holiday and we're heading south. Not to Wanaka, but to the Catlins, where we'll share some family time with children and grandchildren.

On the way down we'll duck into Pegasus for an event in Triathlon New Zealand's national series. This sprint race will be fun and the competition in my age group isn't going to be as strong.

Three weeks after that, the pressure will be on again, with another sprint race, this time in Kinloch, near Taupo. It's the national champinship event over the distance, and some of those extremely fast northern 65 and 66-year-olds will be on the start line too.

On the organisational front, I've been working on promotion of the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon.

It's two months away now, but time to start training. The best way to get motivated is to assemble your team.

Here's how it works: The first of each three-person team completes a 300m swim, 8km bike and 3km run. When they finish, they tag the next team member, who in turn completes his or her triathlon and tags team member three.

The format is enjoying huge success, with the national championship at Kinloch the day after the sprint race up there. A version of the format will be at the next Commonwealth Games and it seems likely to find favour at the Olympics too.

On the website for the Nelson event, there are training programmes written by Nelson's top triathlete, Jon Linyard. You'll find these on the training page at

There's also the option to pay an extra $120 per person and get professional training in both swimming and in the other triathlon disciplines for the next two months, but you'll need to be quick to get the full benefit of this.

One team has already won this whole package, including race entry, free. We'll be following their progress, starting next week, as they prepare for race day.