Multisport: Moriarty set for World Ironman

By Grant Harding

Hawke's Bay's John Moriarty has qualified for the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October.

The 57-year-old will be making his third visit to the holy grail of long course triathlon after finishing first in the 55-59 age-group at the recent Ironman Cairns.

Nobody was more surprised than the laidback Moriarty, who also qualified for Kona through Ironman New Zealand in 2009 and 2010.

With his wife Cathy's mobile phone being bombarded with texts from Hawke's Bay Multisport Club members who had been monitoring the live athlete tracker on the internet he was made aware of his first placing just seconds after crossing the line.

"We're off to Kona," Cathy said, but he was less convinced. The decision to go to Cairns was not based around qualifying for the World Championships, as he had tapered off his training since Ironman New Zealand in March.

"I didn't want to go back (to Kona)," he said.

It wasn't until an hour before he was required to confirm his entry the next day that he relented.

"I never killed myself, never laid myself on the line," Moriarty said of his 10h 40m 54s in the Cairns sunshine. "Everything just seemed to fall into place."

After a modest 3.8km swim (1h 10m 2s), Moriarty put together a strong 180km cycle (5h 30m 40s) and trademark run (3h 46m 56s).

Now resigned to another winter of training, he said representing New Zealand for a third time was "a bit of a thrill again", while going to Kona was "a privilege".

Moriarty will be joined at the World Championships by fellow Bay athlete Brett Mudgway, who qualified in the same age-group at Ironman New Zealand in March.

On the same weekend as Moriarty qualified for Kona, Naomi Fergusson was racing in the Hawaii 70.3 (half-ironman) on the Kohala Coast. She finished 11th professional woman in a time of five hours and nine seconds.

Fergusson lost several minutes on the swim due to a buoy blowing out to sea in the windy conditions, which plagued the entire day.

"Pros that have done hundreds of races dubbed it the toughest ever that they had done, so I'm proud to have finished it," Fergusson said.

At one stage on the half-marathon run she found herself struggling to make headway going downhill into the wind.

The Off-Road Winter Multisport Festival held earlier this month in Rotorua also saw Bay athletes impressing.

The festival combined a number of off-road events including the Australasian 50km Premiere Multisport race. A number of elite multisport athletes from New Zealand and across the Tasman were attracted to the event in the hopes of taking down reigning champion Richard Ussher.

The race involved an 8km kayak around Lake Okareka, a 30km mountain bike through some of Whakawerawera forest's best tracks and a challenging 12km run through the Redwoods forest.

In his first major multisport race, Bay athlete Luke Osborne stunned a number of competitors, coming in fifth. He finished ahead of the likes of Australian John Jacoby, a three-time Coast to Coast winner in 1988, 1989 and 1993. This result has left Osborne "hungry for more".

Fellow Bay athlete, Andrew Bott, finished a creditable seventh in the same event.

Multisport great and current Wairoa Lake to Lighthouse champion, Ussher won the event.

Hawke's Bay athletes also achieved top placings in the off-road half marathon. Engaged couple, Dave Johnson and Annika Edmondson, both found the 11km loop course extremely challenging but were pleased with their efforts of fifth place in the men's open and second place in the women's open division respectively.

Almost 1000 competitors entered The Off-Road Winter Multisport Festival, double the number of entries last year.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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