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Issue 96, March 2007

Port of Tauranga Half Ironman

Saturday, 6 January 2007

The day dawned cool and still for the 6.30am start at Mt Maunganui. Nearly 600 swimmers poured onto the beach and made their way into the water for the 1.9 kilometre swim. Geoff and I found a good position against the barrier by the steps to the beach and waited. And suddenly there was Carly giving us a quick hug on her way past and then merging with the mass of black rubber-suited figures, followed by our good wishes and encouraging comments. I took a photo of her back as she disappeared and then the batteries ran out! (Mental note No. 1: take at least 5 spare packs of camera batteries to Ironman!)

Being a strong swimmer, Carly was out of the water and on her bike in under 40 minutes. Geoff and I wandered back to the motel for some breakfast and then did a little shopping - including new batteries. If Carly was true to form she would finish the cycle leg at about 10.30am, but by about 9.00 we had nothing to do and decided to go back to the event area to see what was going on. Someone handed me a programme and I discovered that the cycle leg was three laps, not one continuous circuit as I had thought. We arrived with just a few minutes to spare before Carly came in after her first lap! (Mental note No. 2: have the Taupo Ironman course memorised before March 3rd!)

During the morning the wind had picked up and was blowing strongly across the course and it was very warm. Even so, Carly finished the cycle at exactly 10.30am, knocking 20 minutes off her personal best for the distance! As she came towards the transition area, the two nice young men who were doing all the announcements talked about Carly and HD and encouraged the crowd to cheer her on.

While she was in transition getting ready for her run, Cameron Brown finished his run and won the triathlon. Carly was rather chuffed to be there when he finished.

All the hoo-ha over Mr Brown ended just in time for Carly to emerge from the chute at the beginning of her half marathon. Again the boys reminded the crowd of why Carly was doing this, and she got a big cheer. She did a funny little wave and told me later that she got quite choked-up when she heard it. (Mental note No. 3: take tissues to Taupo.)

The run was two laps of a course that took them around the base of Mt Maunganui and through some really nice scenery. Many of the competitors commented on what a lovely course the triathlon covered. The only small problem was the weather; even though it was very windy, the wind was warm and the sun was hot and we all got a little burnt. (Mental note No. 4: sun screen!) The wind slowed the elite athletes and Cameron Brown's finish time was at least ten minutes slower than the previous best.

Carly finished 20 seconds under her goal time of 6 hours and 45 minutes. This was the test to see if she could do the full Ironman. If she failed at this, her coach would not let her compete in March. She came through with flying colours and received her medal, and we are all very, very proud of her.

Jan Pickering
Havelock North


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