Delayed ironman test for locals

All smiles in front of EA Networks Centre before the Taupo Ironman cancellation are local triathletes (from left) Ronnie Campbell, John-Henry MacDonald, Dewalt Venter, Tan Grant, Sarah Parker, Roger Willis, Mike Hanson and Anna Redmond.

Eight Mid Canterbury triathletes were primed and prepared to take to the start line at the Taupo Ironman this Saturday before covid forced organisers to postpone the event until March 27.

The triathletes were in buoyant mood and looking forward to the challenge when interviewed by the Ashburton Courier on Friday afternoon, but a little over 24 hours later their well laid plans were dashed with the introduction of new Alert Level 2 restrictions.

Six athletes – Mike Hanson, John-Henry MacDonald, Roger Willis, Ronnie Campbell, Sarah Parker and Anna Redmond – were set to compete in the full ironman, a gruelling race made up of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run.

Two others – Tan Grant and Dewalt Venter – were due to tackle their first Taupo event and were in the half ironman race.

The 2021 race was to be a step up for the oldest two locals taking part.

Ronnie Campbell, 54, and Roger Willis, 55, have both completed the half ironman event before, but were encouraged to tackle the longer distance this year by fellow competitor Mike Hanson.

Campbell said he wasn’t getting any younger and wanted to tick it off his bucket list.

He and Willis said the goal was just to get over the finish line.

The race will be the ninth for Mike Hanson and John-Henry MacDonald, who finished in respective times of 11 hours 17 minutes and 10 hours 17 minutes last year.

The pair have once again been training together and have enjoyed some sessions with the other triathletes.

Swimming has been practised in a 350m long irrigation pond.

Hanson said a targeted training schedule had started six months ago and would now have to re-worked because of the new date.

He and the other athletes were happy that the event was happening and were busy re-booking travel and accommodation.

They hoped that there would be no more covid interruptions.

-By Mick Jensen