Olympic Games gold medallist Hamish Carter doesn’t do things by half, he doesn’t take on challenges light heartedly, so when he says he is â€˜coming out of retirement’ to compete in a triathlon for the first time in over 6 years, you know he must be serious.
Carter announced today that he would dust off the cobwebs from the bike and see if he can still fit into the wetsuit (he’ll have no problems) to race at the Barfoot & Thompson ITU Triathlon World Cup in Auckland on November 20, with the event hub at The Cloud on Queens Wharf.
Only this time the motivation isn’t gold medals, it isn’t racing at the sharp end of the elite field, it is about inspiring the next generation of triathletes as the Auckland city waterfront is turned into a stadium of thousands, this one is about Hamish Carter, the age group participant.
Carter explains his commitment to the event, a commitment that he admits might come at the expense of his own physical wellbeing!
â€œIt is 6 years since I retired and haven’t really done a triathlon since then but I think a showcase event like this in your home town, Auckland, New Zealand, it is immensely important for the sport and important that I play my part in it, this is history for the sport here. I was asked to sit on the Board for the event but wanted to use my experience beyond that if I could and that means actually taking part. There are just too many good reasons to be involved.â€
Carter admits that he struggles to reign in the â€œcompetitorâ€ inside and expects that he might again find himself in trouble soon after the race starts on November 20.
â€œI haven’t found the social athlete in me I think it is fair to say, I have done the Motatapu mountain bike ride once and raced Xterra in a team so I really have only done bits of events â€˜socially’. I go in with great intentions of just enjoying it and I hope I do that in this event. The challenge however is I get into a race and assume my old rhythm and then after half an hour I disintegrate!
â€œI have stayed in reasonable shape but I am maybe ten percent of my peak racing fitness. Although I can fake it for a wee while there is not a lot in the tank to carry on beyond that initial rush, I expect I might hit the wall a few hundred metres into the swim!â€
Carter though thinks that this time might be different given the significance of the event outweighs any thoughts of personal goals or expectations of grandeur once achieved in the past.
â€œTo be fair I actually don’t want to come back and race well, this time I am just there to enjoy a sport which has been my life. I see this event as important for the next ten years of the sport; I really think it is that big. When you think about Rick (Wells), Erin (Baker) then me, Bevan and now the girls, I think throughout our history we have outdone ourselves in triathlon and this event should inspire some new talent to have a crack.â€
Speaking of Wells, Carter is more than a little wary of the man who blazed a trail through triathlon in the 80’s and early 90’s, winning just about every major race over any distance from sprint to Ironman, including the demonstration race on the same Auckland waterfront at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.
â€œI’ve not really spoken to Rick, but he looks to be in good shape. He has clearly done some serious training and I think that is completely unfair, we should have agreed to do minimal training, I’m just lucky he is in a different age category to me!â€
Speaking of which, how does a former World and Olympic champion feel about joining the masses and taking part in an age group race.
â€œAge groupers are incredible, so dedicated and so passionate. That is the beauty of the sport, these age groupers are what makes the sport intriguing, they have busy lives and yet are incredibly fit and capable people. And that makes me a bit nervous, but that is going to be a nice feeling, that is one thing I have missed, that real buzz at the start of a race. The problem is once the gun goes I’ll take off and ten minutes into the swim I will be rooted.
â€œI am so looking forward to this event though and what it will do for our sport and for our country. It is special that we have the World Cup and World Champs coming to New Zealand and I want to be a part of it, along with thousands of others.â€
Carter will indeed line up on Sunday November 20 with thousands of other Kiwis with both the sprint and standard distance age group events selling out in double quick time. With qualifying spots on the line for the 2012 ITU World Age Group Champs on the same course, racing will be intense.
Age group racing in the morning will be followed by the elite Men and Women racing in the ITU World Cup races, beamed live around New Zealand on television and radio. And with 34 nations represented in the two races, Auckland and New Zealand will once again be beamed into living rooms and onto newspapers and websites around the world.
Further information can be found at www.triauckland.co.nz including course maps, full race schedule, spectator viewing points and start lists for all races including age group and elite.