Steely edge to family's race rivalry

There's no love lost in the Bramwell family ahead of father Greg and daughter Bella competing in next month's Ironman New Zealand in Taupo.

The duo have been training together for the past month and "there's a pretty intense rivalry there," Greg, 51, said yesterday.

"There will be no running hand in hand up the finishing chute together. We are going all out to beat each other."

That has already led to some tough training sessions be they in the pool, on the bike, or pounding the pavement. "We are remarkably even, so even that it's quite scary. It's just that she recovers much quicker, as 22-year-olds do."

Greg has experience on his side. He raced Ironman during the early 1990s, completing the world-renowned Hawaiian event in 1993 and the race in New Zealand when it was held in Auckland. But it has been 18 years since he last competed in such a gruelling contest.

Bella will be taking part in her first long-distance event but has a sporting pedigree, having returned home from a four-year American football scholarship at a university in West Virginia late last year. Before she departed she was a New Zealand age-group representative.

"This idea cropped up about six months ago and Bella, who was coming home at Christmas, was feeling like doing something different after four years of football full-on."

Greg, a keen cyclist, is also a dedicated Hagley Park runner so for him the biggest challenge has been mastering the swim on Lake Taupo.

"I've been pretty lucky I was blessed with indestructibility, not ability, so I just sort of get on with it."

The pair train together in the early mornings for the 3.8km swim, 180.2km cycle and 42.2km marathon.

Ironman New Zealand is one of 30 events that qualify participants for the World Championships in Hawaii. It is New Zealand's biggest annual international one-day sporting event, with this year's race attracting more than 1500 entrants from 53 countries, including a record 917 from New Zealand. This compares with the first year in 1985 which attracted 157 starters with just 68 from New Zealand.

The elite professionals race for US$50,000 (NZ$59,680) prizemoney as well as qualifying points, while age groupers will vie for titles as well as 40 qualifying spots for the world championships in Hawaii.

Greg said he had no ambition to attempt Hawaii again.

The Press