New Zealand's most successful Ironman Cameron Brown is going to put the theory that life begins at 40 to the ultimate test this weekend in what could be his last world championship.
The 10-time New Zealand champion will make his 12th start in arguably sport's toughest test on Sunday (NZT); the world championship in the cauldron-like heat of Kona, Hawaii.
After indifferent performances over the last three years, Brown is keen to ensure his likely last showing in Hawaii is one he is proud of.
He heads a group of 33 New Zealanders who have qualified for the world championships, with Auckland's Jo Lawn and Christchurch's Gina Crawford joining him in the pro elite division. The remaining 30 will compete in the age group divisions, from 25-year-old prospect Larisa Marsh to the remarkable 75-year-old Neil Fleming, from Taupo,.
"If it is my last time here then I want it to be a bloody good one," said Brown, who enjoyed four podium finishes in Hawaii from 2001 to 2005.
Accordingly, the father of two left the family behind for eight weeks of hard training at altitude in Boulder, Colorado.
"I wanted to give it one last hurrah and go somewhere that was a little bit hotter. I had one day of rain and temperatures were over 32 degrees Celcius. There's great trail running and endless 20km climbs riding."
"I have had a solid eight weeks of training at altitude that has been fantastic with no interruptions. Then the altitude effect which has allowed me to push a bit harder. Hopefully I should be firing on all cylinders on Saturday."
He knows the race is about performance on the day.
"The world champions have all said that you have to feel absolutely brilliant on race day if you want to win this thing. I have never really had that feeling.
"Hopefully I can put it all on the line, go well, feel good throughout the whole 180km bike ride and get off and run well."
Favourites are Australians Craig Alexander and Kiwi-born Chris McCormack, who between them have won the last five times in Kona.
Both Lawn and Crawford come into the women's race in outstanding form in a field that is not as deep as in previous years.
Lawn has enjoyed three finishes in the top five in Kona and comes off an impressive fifth place in the Ironman 70.3 world championships in Las Vegas, while Crawford's performances have been nothing short of remarkable since the birth of her son Benji.
She won two Iron distance races including Wanaka, was second in Ironman France and fourth in the European long distance championships.
The elite race starts at 5.45am Sunday (NZ time) with men's winner expected by 2pm and the women's champion by 3pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News