Shorty Clark Opens The Door To Taranaki
Shorty Clark Opens The Door To Taranaki
Shorty Clark knows what it is to travel to destinations throughout New Zealand and indeed the world as he pursues his passion for triathlon. The 60 year old has been competing in the sport since 1995 and has attended 12 ITU World Age Group Championships and hundreds of local and national series events throughout New Zealand.
But on March 23 this year, the triathlon world is set to return to Shorty’s backyard of the Taranaki for the ITU New Plymouth World Cup Sprint and age group races.
It is no surprise that Shorty is fiercely proud of his home town and province and wants locals and visitors alike to support the event, to reinforce his passion for the event, he works for the naming rights sponsor Port Taranaki and has cheekily asked boss Roy Weaver for a few extra days off to train!
“New Plymouth for me means loyalty to our community, our families and being dedicated to our open, clean and healthy lifestyle. We are also committed to improving our prosperity and that of those who live here in the energy capital of New Zealand.
“I regularly refer to home as having ‘Naki pride and passion. Whether it is triathlon, rugby, netball, cricket or any sporting code, New Plymouth and our people are recognised as being honest, open, genuine and friendly.”
Clark is determined to lead the charge when it comes to getting behind the event next month; remembering what is was like when the ITU World Cup left the region back in 2009.
“It’s vital and important for the whole community and province to ‘get in behind’ this race and give it 100% support. Previously we had an ITU World Cup back in 2008 and this generated tons of support, interest, sponsorship and generated spending in the local economy. It was definitely missed when we lost it to an Australian venue.
“The support, vibrancy, crowd interaction and inspiration that is produced from this race is partly what has brought the event back, vindicates the sponsors and makes the complete event viable and attractive to competitors – both the locals and the visitors from outside the province.
“We have the best and most beautiful, natural triathlon playground anywhere in New Zealand right here in New Plymouth, coupled with brilliant training and racing facilities.”
Shorty is also an advocate for any newcomers to the sport to give it a go, even as late as now he believes taking part in one of the many age group and corporate events in New Plymouth is realistic.
“Triathlon is easier than bowling underarm to an Aussie! That's what makes doing a tri enjoyable, rewarding and a buzz. The distances are short, your gear and equipment are basic and the time to do the event is minimal.
“The input offered by local members, coaches, administrators, and the wider tri community is huge. It is a friendly easy going exercise and a great way to improve one’s own health and fitness/lifestyle. The personal satisfaction that you get from achieving a result and taking up the challenge is a huge buzz, and that gets those juices flowing and pumps the adrenalin thru the body.
“For me it really is a personal satisfaction and the chance to say ‘I feel really good about myself’. All of this can be stirred up from doing an easy, short distance tri. It gives a newcomer to the sport that sensation of ‘hey, that was neat, I am going to have another crack at it’, feeling.”
Clark makes no bones about what the sport has done for him in his life, with benefits far beyond the competition.
“For me personally my involvement in triathlon has been an absolute 110% life changer – something of a revelation to me.
“Triathlon has turned back the clock for me, improved my health, wellbeing, mental powers, motivation and overall life expectancy massively. It’s taught me how a person can go from an ordinary average kiwi bloke - rugby, racing and beer, with no sporting background or pedigree, to become a National Champion and be highly recognised on the International World Age Group circuit, with a ranking of 4th in the sprint distance and to 6th in standard distance.”
With a resting heart rate of 37, blood pressure of 117/85 and cholesterol count of 3:3, Clark is walking testament to the changes the sport has delivered on the health front.
“The biggest gain has been health and vitality wise, where I now enjoy and love the benefits that I have earned through tri, along with vastly improved eating habits. It’s a lifestyle change that has me hooked and dedicated - some might say it is an addiction. It is one that allows anybody if they choose to, to achieve greater heights in life, work and family.”
Shorty can’t talk triathlon without a mention of his former coach and mentor Jack Ralston.
“I started with Jack in 2002, at the ITU Cancun World Champs and was with him until his sad passing in August 2012. As well, I have been able to grow myself within the triathlon organisation, gaining valuable experience in ITU rules, regulations and competitions. To be able to pass on this knowledge and help out young or old , new or seasoned campaigners, means I can give something back into the sport.”
The final word though is back to his first love, his home province of Taranaki and to further encourage everyone to take part in some of the events being put on as part of the ITU World Cup on March 23rd.
“Taranaki has truly wonderful people, the positive, prosperous community as a whole and the geography of the area is second to none. Our climate, employment opportunities, fantastic sea views, local businesses, shopping, restaurants, scenic attractions and iconic tourist spots such as the coastal walkway, the wind wand, Pukekura Park, Puketiti Gardens, Yarrows Stadium, Mt Taranaki – the list goes on.
“Why wouldn’t you want to live here or at least come and participate in the Port Taranaki ITU Sprint Triathlon – as the marketing material says, come ‘sprint by the mountain’.”
Age group racing on the Sunday morning will cater for everyone from beginners to experts, all over the short sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) with a relay option where competitors can do one of the disciplines before passing on to their team mate to complete the next leg of the race.
ITU World Cup Sprint
Sunday March 23rd
7.30am Corporate and Age Group racing starts
Midday Elite Women, ITU World Cup
2.30pm Elite Men, ITU World Cup