Multisports: Best and the rest mingle for grand final week

By Peter Thornton

The Barfoot & Thompson event's chief executive, Dave Beeche, said this change was intended to encourage participation and help first-timers overcome those pre-event nerves. Photo / David Rowland
The Barfoot & Thompson event's chief executive, Dave Beeche, said this change was intended to encourage participation and help first-timers overcome those pre-event nerves. Photo / David Rowland

The ITU World Triathlon grand final week is not just about the elites or age groupers chasing titles, prize money and medals.

It is an event that caters for all abilities with the 3:5:3 solo and team events.

And for any nervous swimmers in need of a little assistance, in what may well be a world first for a triathlon flippers will be allowed in the swim.

The Barfoot & Thompson event's chief executive, Dave Beeche, said this change was intended to encourage participation and help first-timers overcome those pre-event nerves.

"One of the great things about triathlon is how all-encompassing the sport is," said Beeche. "It welcomes the very best in the world alongside the age-groupers and the first-timers.

"You will see this at so many events where budding age groupers can line up alongside or on the same course as their heroes."

Beeche said the intention was to provide that same opportunity at the World Championships with the 3:5:3 solo and teams races, and organisers had been overwhelmed by the response.

"We have close to 500 solo competitors and close to 400 in the teams race - both races that allow everyone the chance to be involved and get on to a little of the same race course as the very best in the world.

He said the decision to have a flipper category was made to emphasise the nature of the competition.

"If participants want to chase a great time and the glory of being first across the line they can, but this is not a race with medals. Every finisher will get a souvenir event T-shirt as a memento of their efforts.

"Obviously participants need to be capable of swimming the 300m in the harbour, but the flipper option will provide them with a little more assistance and comfort in the water."

"This is a chance for the weekend warrior, the first-time triathletes and yet also those who take the sport seriously to be a part of this amazing week of triathlon. The emphasis in these two races is fun. If you want to race the clock and aim for the podium, great. But equally we will be catering for those whose aim is simply to take part and make the finish line with a smile on their face.

"The beauty is that participants will be swimming, cycling and running on some of the same course as the Andrea Hewitts, Helen Jenkins, Bevan Dochertys and Jonny Brownlees of this world, in and around the waterfront of Auckland City. So maybe everyone can have their moment to themselves and dream they are racing alongside the best in the world."

Timing of the events is such that participants will have time to enjoy their event, freshen up and get something to eat and drink before settling in to watch the best in the sport chase world championship titles.

Hamish Carter will be among those lining up in the Solo 3:5:3 event, as he looks to encourage New Zealanders to "give the sport a go".

The former Olympic gold medallist decided on the relaxed nature of the 3:5:3 rather than chasing an age group world title.

- NZ Herald

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