The final Sovereign Tri Series event of the summer at Takapuna on February 28 will be a special one for Morne Barnard.
The North Shore father hasn't done a triathlon in 11 years after he got into some trouble in the swim leg of a race in South Africa. It was his first and only Tri - but Takapuna will change all of that.
"My last attempt at a triathlon didn't go so well. It was a running start for the swim with quite a few people. Being my first attempt at the swim, I didn't expect such a fight at the start. I had swum about 20 metres when I got a massive kick to the jaw. I was disorientated and got pulled out of the water by the lifeguards. It was a huge disappointment for me as I had put a lot of effort into my preparation. It pretty much put me off triathlons. I haven't done a swimming event since that day. The Takapuna Tri will be my first attempt to dip my feet back into the water."
The Albany father of two admits the incident put him off any competitive swimming for a long time. But he did still have a strong desire to complete a triathlon.
"Every time I went to enter another triathlon, the swim stopped me from clicking the submit button. All that changed when one of the guys that I train kettlebells with, entered the Sovereign Takapuna Tri. He suggested that I should look into the race because it's great for beginners. I checked out the course map and the swim sounded like a safer option, so I entered."
Event Director Stuart Dwight is delighted that Morne has chosen Takapuna to make his return.
"Often it is the swim that puts people off entering a triathlon, but the Sovereign Tri Series is very much about welcoming first timers or those who might be a bit nervous about the swim. The short distance option often involves swimming in very shallow water and over a short distance, this allows beginners to race with confidence, knowing that we have a great team of surf lifesavers keeping a close watch on them, but also knowing that they can simply stop and stand up if they need a rest.
"The Takapuna course for the Sovereign Tri Series is a great one, with the full road closure, great surroundings for family and friends to enjoy watching and the chance to relax and watch the elites in their races on the same day, I just know Morne, his friends and family are going to have a great day."
The 42-year old has been training for the Takapuna Triathlon since January. He was doing a few short sessions to lift his basic fitness level, but then he started ramping it up at the beginning of February, doing more swimming sessions and more cycling and running combo sessions.
"I have good base fitness from the gym and kettlebell training. For cycling I've done a few road cycles on the Long Bay cycle route, it has a lot of short, steep hills. I've also cycled around North Harbour Stadium with the kids (Simone 12, Krige 11) as they are entered in the short distance race. I've done a few runs around Albany and I did quite a bit of swimming over Auckland Anniversary weekend up at Kai Iwi Lakes and some ocean swimming at Long Bay, but limited to standing depth."
Barnard has organised four friends to join him in the Takapuna race. They have all entered the short distance (300m swim, 7km bike, 2.8km run), as well as his kids. But he's expecting some of them to be more competitive than others.
"It's going to be good fun I'm hoping. If it all goes well I will most definitely look at giving another triathlon a go. I love the fact that I can share this with my kids. We can train together and it will be great to be able to compete on the same day. They are very good swimmers though, so I might have to go hard in the cycle to be able to chase their times.
"I am always looking for a challenge. Normally I am a very competitive person, but this time it's just about finishing."