Ironman attracts all sorts

By Iain Hyndman


The majority of Wanganui competitors in this year's Nutri-Grain New Zealand Ironman in Taupo on Saturday are aiming to finish the gruelling event first before assessing their performances.

Eight from the River City will contest this year's event and their jobs are as varied as their ages.

Veteran Tony Fantham is the eldest at 73 and is retired, while the youngest is pharmacist Adam Holmes at 37.

The others include police dog handler Jason Page, sheetmetal engineer Clint Black and mechanic James Harvey (40), operating theatre assistant Kerry Howe (53), manager Mike Hos (45) and accountant Laurika Hazelhurst (41).

All have competed in the event before, although last year the race was reduced to a half ironman a day after the scheduled start as bad weather battered Taupo and surrounding districts.

In fact, Fantham said he arrived on the Thursday before the big event last year to find bravehearted souls surfing Lake Taupo.

"The winds were that high, people were out on the lake surfing," Fantham said.

The Nutri-Grain New Zealand Ironman is a true test of stamina and mental toughness with competitors forced to swim 3.8km, cycle 180km and then run a full 42.2km marathon.

This Saturday will be Fantham's second attempt and he is simply aiming to finish.

"I'm not overly strong in any of the three disciplines, but I just hate giving in and I have stamina - they are my strong suits.

"There are seven in my age group (70-74) and I'm not too worried about where I finish as long as I finish," he said.

Fantham is no stranger to testing events having represented New Zealand at three world standard distance triathlons - two in Australia and one in Canada - in the past.

For Holmes it will be his sixth NZ Ironman and with strength built over more than a decade of Coast to Coast events, he is sure to be competitive in his age group.

"My training has gone pretty well and I'm injury-free this season. I've done all the key workouts I wanted leading up to this weekend and I'm aiming to better the 10-hour mark," Holmes said yesterday.

Black is a four time competitor and admits he hasn't done much training for this attempt yet still hopes to finish in about 12 hours.

"It will be a long day," Black said.

Harvey's training has been on cue for his third attempt, although he has some minor concerns about a hamstring injury.

Howe completed the event in 2010 and 2011, but pulled out after last year's event was delayed.

"I was feeling a bit crook on the Sunday so decided to pull out. But this year I've got much more confidence in my swimming and I'm hoping to knock up to 10 minutes off that leg and pick up more time in the bike as well. As long as I get under 12 hours I'll be a happy man," Howe said.

The remainder of the Wanganui squad could not be contacted for comment.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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