Ironman NZ brings out the fighting spirit of Samoan triathletes from around the region. There were a few on display in Taupo on Saturday.
It was the worst conditions for many years of the iconic race.
The distance covered is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a full marathon of 42kms to follow. But it was the shortest discipline that torpedoed many hopes in the early part of the race.
Over 100 did not complete the swim due to extremely rough conditions at Lake Taupo. And those who finished the swim went on to face strong westerlies in the tough 180km bike course to Reporoa and back, twice.
Many more pulled out after the bike course and didn’t start the run.
That was a full marathon of survival, 42kms around Lake Taupo. Those who made it to the end earned the right to be called “Ironman”.
In this uni-sex race, to be called an “Ironman” at the end of your race is the reason athletes endured it to the end. The medal and the race towel is secondary to being an “Ironman”.
There were many Samoans from around the region including our own Darren Young. Joining Darren in the lineup was up and coming pro racer Karen Rasmussen of Dunedin.
There were also many friends of Samoa Events that raced on Saturday including pro athletes Cameron Brown, Graham O’Grady and Stephen Farrell, who have been to Samoa several times to race in Samoa Events races.
Another was Apolima Strait women’s record holder, Abby Armstrong. She swam Upolu to Savaii last year. Abby is returning next month with her mother Jo to swim to Savaii again.
Darren Young completed a personal best for his race, shaving over 1 hour from his last Ironman in Taupo on 2015.
He described the race on Saturday as the “worst race he has ever done”. He’s not alone.
Karen Rasmussen who has 7 Ironman events behind her said it was “brutal”.
Tagaloa Michael Stowers termed it the “worst swim” of his 11 Ironman races.