Kiwi's racing Vega Ironman World Championship
New Zealand will be to the fore at the 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship on Kailua-Kona this weekend, with an incredible 50 flying the silver fern when 2,500 of the best triathletes from around the globe set off to conquer Kona this Saturday morning local time, Sunday morning New Zealand time.
New Zealand has always enjoyed a proud record over the IRONMAN distance, with many pro athletes gracing the podium and top ten over the years, and many hundreds more age groupers vying for and winning a world championship medal in their respective age category.
And with the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship coming to Taupo next year, there is an even stronger focus on the New Zealanders, with the event abuzz with anticipation of a visit to Taupo, a place considered by many to be the second home of IRONMAN, behind Kona.
New Zealand legend Jo Lawn knows what it is to race and survive the elements that Kailua-Kona can throw at you, with the legendary heat and wind again set to feature this weekend. A seven- time winner of Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand from 2003 to 2010, 45-year-old Lawn took on Kona 14 times in her decorated career, finishing top ten on six occasions, so she knows the keys to Kona.
“Kona is Kona, it is a really tough race, you have to be scared of it and respect it. Do your own race, drink and eat – don’t miss an aid station. Even if it is windy, you have to slow down and eat and drink, even if you have to walk on the run. I would walk, the so-called super star pros will walk to get that nutrition on board, if you don’t you simply will not finish, and no one wants that. Take your time, the island can be fierce, but it is fierce for everybody, so just take your time and get to the finish line, there is no better felling than that.”
Amongst those 50 Kiwis will be former Shortland Street actor Chris Dykzeul, with over 1,000 episodes of New Zealand’s iconic soap behind him, Dykzeul has since completed 12 IRONMAN New Zealand races, qualifying him for a Legacy entry to the World Championship, albeit he should have been here last year.
“I started collecting my IRONMAN medals back in 1998, the last IRONMAN in Auckland, so it has been a 21-year journey for me and finally here I am, at the dream race. I was meant to be here last year and got injured and needed surgery and the IRONMAN team very kindly allowed me to defer for another year.
“The nerves haven’t quite kicked in yet, it feels amazing and surreal to be here, I have been here many times to watch or work, but to finally be on the start line it is pretty special, it has been such a huge part of my life for so long. I am apprehensive about the day but huge amount of gratitude to be here knowing that something like 250,000 people try to get a start and I am here ready to race.”
Dykzeul was in no doubt about what is more nerve wracking, with Saturdays swim start (Sunday NZT) easily getting the nod over his time in front of the camera on Shortland Street.
“On Shortland Street you can go again if you make a mistake, there are no retakes in an IRONMAN.”
Another looking forward to his big day is IRONMAORI co-founder Wayne Skipworth. The Hastings coach and mentor to many was awarded a rare Global Ambassador spot this year, in recognition of his own 9 IRONMAN New Zealand medals, but more especially for the work that he and wife Heather do with IRONMAORI and the change that they have affected to so many families around New Zealand.
“Having the whole of IRONMAORI, IRONMAN New Zealand and Oceania and the World, that is something I am using as fuel on the way to Kona,” said Skipworth. “Once you have done your first IRONMAN, anything is possible, and everything is positive, so I don’t worry about anything. I am going to take my time, enjoy the day, no pressure and go with the flow.”
The Kiwis and Aussies will share a few stories and hear from a few of the leading professionals at the ANZAC Breakfast in Kailua Kona tomorrow morning local time, before then taking part in the parade of nations, the official launch event of a busy week on Kailua Kona.
New Zealand entries to 2019 Vega IRONMAN World Championship
Braden Currie, Mike Phillips, Warren Hill, Dave Dean, Wayne Skipworth, Tim Corbett, Greg Weston, Christopher Dykzeul, Craig Hamilton, Kris Watkins, Ash Matuschka, Brian Boyle, Richard Sweetman, Shirley Rolston, Dave Dwan, John Moriarty, Andrew Mcleod, Graeme Ferguson, Tanya Lavington, Steve Dean, Paul Hill, Robert Loveridge, David Mattson, Glen McSkimming, Elizabeth Hayes, Lisa Hitchcock, Jennifer McDermott, Ian Graham, Jeff McGrath, Reon Park, Michael Roigard, Brendon Vesty, Peter Wilkinson, Megan Arthur, Natasja Barclay, Simon Brown, Jed Eden, Quentin Fogarty, Shay Mcleod, Kan McCollum, Mike Wright, Nikkola Mathews, Anthea Oliver, Diana Simpson, Michael Grain, Sam Crosbie, Rob Mears, William Tennent, Robert Humby