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Age Groupers Ready to Fly the Kiwi Flag

Age Groupers Ready to Fly the Kiwi Flag at Ironman World Championships

A 37-strong contingent of New Zealanders are in the final nervous days of taper ahead of the IRONMAN® World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai`i on 14 October.

Ranging in age from 24-year-old Florence Loader to 68-year-old Shirley Rolston and covering Whangarei to Wanaka in New Zealand and Australia and the United States for those now domiciled overseas, this is a team that truly represents New Zealand.

Each has their own story, their own goals and their own dreams this weekend, here are a small selection of those stories ahead of the big day this Saturday (age groupers from 6:05am, Sunday NZT).

Warren Keenan, 49, Maintenance Manager, Brisbane (formerly Auckland)

“Even though I live in Brisbane I will always be a Kiwi, I'm very passionate and love following the All Blacks even have the silver fern tattooed on my shoulder, but to race at the pinnacle of our sport at Kona in New Zealand colours brings a tear to my eye. I come home when I can to race and catch up with family, but Kona is the big time for any long-distance triathlete!

“This sport has changed my life. I've lost 26kg since I did my first tri eight years ago, and now I love the hurt. I know it sounds weird, but I just love having the mongrel that keeps me going and do the huge amount of training. You also meet so many amazing people and get to travel to all these wonderful destinations that otherwise you would never consider going to.

“My family has been huge in supporting this dream, with my wife Andrea and kids Luke, Dani and Monique just amazing with their support and understanding. Also, my stepsons Connor, Bryce and Ethan are totally behind me, you just couldn’t do something like this without having your family behind you.”

Rob Dallimore, 40, Triathlon Coach, Auckland

“I've followed Kona religiously from 1989's ‘Ironwar’, either by reading about it in magazines or watching it on VHS from someone who recorded it on TV. I first raced there in 2007 and 2013, and now 2017.

“It's just such a cool place to race. I don't think I could do it year in year out though as it's pretty hard to train for through the New Zealand winter. There's so much history there, and you really are lining up against the best Ironman athletes in the world. It's the true test of fitness. I'm motivated by knowing I'll get to the start line as prepared as I could be. I haven't been injured or sick in this build up. I've had plenty of tough days training and have made it out the other side in one piece, so fingers crossed it all comes together

“Two of my athletes are racing (Jason Shoeman and Nathan Peterson). I'm really looking forward to lining up with them. I know how hard they've trained over the season and I'm looking forward to being there watching them go about it.

“I also have some great mates and training partners racing (Brodie Madgwick and Andy Smith). As a group we have done some awesome workouts in horrible weather so we are looking forward to being there racing together. Cam Brown has been training with us through the winter and he is going to be in Kona watching, so it will be huge having him sideline getting stuck into us when it matters the most.”

Katrina Whaanga, 45, Deputy Principal Hamilton Girl’s High, Hamilton

“After my second attempt at IMNZ I finished 6th in my age group. I knew that in 2017 I would age up an age group and thought I wonder if I trained harder, could I qualify for Kona? I had friends that had travelled and competed in Kona and their enthusiasm for the event fueled my desire to try and qualify. The fact everyone must qualify adds to the desire and makes Kona that much more special.

“My race plan is a quite different to New Zealand where I had to take notice of my opposition and know where they were and what I needed to do to try and qualify. I still want to do my best but ultimately, I want to finish. I have never raced in the heat before so this is unknown territory.

“I have been lucky this year that I have had study leave for 32 weeks. This has made training a little easier. I have still had to have 4am starts but not as many as if I was at school full time. My day consists of a training session before work and then one or two during the day if I am not teaching. I have to fit study in around this also.

“Staff at school have been great. A few are travelling over to watch the race. The girls I used to teach made me a video to wish me luck. They like following my progress and cheer me on when they see me. I love being able to share my experience and journey with them. A couple of my students will make great triathletes but a number of them play more than one sport which makes it difficult for them to focus on triathlon.

Tony O’Hagan, 51, Triathlon Coach, Auckland

“I had a start back in 1994. I had a great swim for me (54min), with a few of the main players like Jurgen Zack and Lothar Leder, and a solid bike of 4:50. I think I came off in the second main group, but I had relied on special needs nutrition and it was not there when I went through and unfortunately that caught up with me on the run. After waddling through the first 10 or 11k, when I ran past the condo I was staying in, I took a left, went in, showered and changed. I came out and flagged down an official and handed my chip in! Fair to say I did not like the Kona experience.

“I had absolutely no desire to go back and compete for a long time, I thought it was a very bleak place, and there were far nicer Ironman events around the world to do! I have finally gotten over that first experience and am happy to go back. The enjoyment for me now is more about the process – I enjoy the process of getting in reasonable shape and doing the best I can with the fitness I have. I have no performance expectations – just want to execute the best I can, both in the build-up and on race day.

“I have one of my athletes racing this year, Diana Simpson, a very solid athlete, and continuing to improve!”

The full list of New Zealanders racing this weekend:

Pro: Braden Currie, Wanaka; Terenzo Bozzone, Auckland.

Age Group: Rob Wylie, Auckland; Heather Allison, Red Beach; Shirley Rolston, Tai Tapu; Tony Dallinger, Cambridge; Graeme Macdonald, Whangarei; Michele Allison, Wellington; John Dickson, Melbourne; Stephen Farrell, Auckland; Peter Westlake, Fort Myers; Vicki Earl, Auckland; Sue McMaster, New Plymouth; John Fredericksen, Christchurch; Tony O’Hagan, Auckland; Louise Corbett, Nelson; Linda Exeter-Grant, Napier; Duane Braithwaite, Papamoa; Dean Galt, Wellington; Allan Jefferson, Hyde Park; Warren Keenan, Brisbane; Jason Morris, Auckland; Katrina Whaanga, Hamilton; Alan Bryson, Nelson; Rob Dallimore, Auckland; Scott Hotham, Auckland; Nathan Peterson, Christchurch; Andrew Smith, Auckland; Stephen Brown, Wanaka; Paul Davies, Peregian Springs; Brodie Madgwick, Auckland; Kerri Dewe, Auckland; Diana Simpson, Auckland; Natalie Smith, Wellington; Jason Schoeman, Newmarket; Shannon Proffit, Brisbane; James Shapcott; Perth; Florence Loader, Rangiora; Phil Richards, Gold Coast.


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