PORT MACQUARIE, NSW (May 1, 2013) â€“ IRONMAN Australia is well known in Australia’s triathlon community as â€œthe people’s race.â€
Anyone who has experienced the finish line of this iconic event, now in its 27th year, would be hard pressed to deny that fact.
It’s the people of Port Macquarie that create an atmosphere unmatched, IRONMANÂ® World Championship in Kona aside, in the world of triathlon. It’s also the place many age group athletes have tested themselves against the sports best and realised they could cut it with the big boys and girls of Ironman.
It has also provided a great testing ground for those emerging professionals, enabling them to go up against the best the sport has to offer.
The IRONMAN Australia honour roll includes some of the sport’s greatest ever athletes from Peter Reid to Lisa Bentley.
It’s the race that heralded the arrival of Chris McCormack, a race he would go on to win six times, it’s the place that saw Belinda Granger cut her teeth, it’s the race that opened the door for a young Luke Bell to realise he had what it took to be a professional.
This year it could provide the break out performance Nicole Ward has been looking for.
Ward turned professional five years ago after a number of stunning results as an age grouper.
â€œI raced my firstÂ Ironman in 2006 at Port Mac and was very fortunate to qualify toÂ race HawaiiÂ later that year.Â I was placing really well overall in the women’s field in most of the Australian long course racesÂ that I entered throughout 2006 and 2007 and won my age group in every event,â€ she said.
â€œAfter winning twoÂ Australian Age group titles for Ironman and Long Course in 2007, I then decided that I wanted a greater challenge so I applied for my professional license.Â Whilst I race as a professional though I still have a corporate career working in HR for Westpac Bank, so I still have to balance work and training like an age group athlete does.Â â€œ
As the location of her first Ironman race, IRONMAN Australia holds a special place in Ward’s heart.
â€œI love racing this event as it’s the original Ironman in Australia and has so much tradition and the best atmosphere of all the Australian Ironman races.Â This will be my fifth time racing at Port Macquarie so it’s a pretty special event for me.Â I also have a huge group of training buddies and friends from my local triathlon club, Balmoral Triathlon Club, who are also competing, which makes it even more exciting,â€ she said.
â€œThe atmosphere is incredible especially given that I feel like a local athlete when I race in Port Mac.Â Hawaii is pretty hard to compete with but as far as other races go you can’t compete with the sensational vibe and crowd support in Port Macquarie. Nothing like a pub finish either- for both the spectators and the athletes.â€
The professional field will be joined by 1800 age group competitors all looking to complete the journey and cross the â€˜hallowed’ finish line.
The event will get underway at 06.45am on Sunday May 5, 2013.
For further event details: www.ironmanaustralia.com.