Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Triathlon: Cook's crusade to beat 12.5 hours

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Rohan Cook training ahead of Saturday's Ironman New Zealand to be held in Taupo.
Rohan Cook training ahead of Saturday's Ironman New Zealand to be held in Taupo.

Rohan Cook can't wait for the starter's gun to begin the 32nd Ironman New Zealand event to be held in Taupo on Saturday.

It will be the 26-year-old property lawyer's second full-distance Ironman after his debut last year.

"It was a lot more enjoyable than he thought it would be. All the long hours training by yourself, out in the middle of nowhere on your bike or going for a run with no support, and then you get to the day and the streets are just lined with people cheering you on," Cook said.

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One of the biggest challenges for every one of more than 1700 competitors to overcome is to keep positive after they finish the daunting 3.86 km swim and 180.25km bike leg to realise there is still a 42.2km marathon distance to run.

"I just had to break it down into bite-sized pieces and slowly chip away at eating the elephant," Cook said. "It is a three-lap course so you can break it down to six components and then chip it off bit by bit. There are some dark places you find yourself in but you just have to drag yourself out of it."

Cook is confident he can beat last year's time of 12.5 hours under the guidance of new coach Chris Willett.

"He has been pushing me hard which has been good and I am training with a good group of people which just makes it that much more enjoyable to go out there and train with friends.

"It is a very fine balance between training and work. A tightrope you could say and if one tips the balance the other one goes out the window. You really have to make sure you cram as much in the weekend as you can and sleep as much as possible."

The cycle leg is the biggest challenge facing Cook.

"You spend the most time on the bike and it is a big part of the race because you have to get off the bike fresh enough to be able to run and feel all right to keep moving and not want to stop and hang out at the aid stations for too long."

In September Cook will represent New Zealand at the World Long Distance Triathlon Championship in Oklahoma, USA.

"I qualified in the Port of Tauranga Half back in January. It was a goal I had in mind and I worked pretty hard for it for three and a half years ...

"I am fortunate to be supported by work Sharp Tudhope and sponsored by Radius Care and Habit, who have jumped on board the Oklahoma trip to make it a bit easier financially."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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