21 year old Tasmanian James Hodge has added another title to his newly acquired professional triathlon resume. In a big weekend of long course triathlon around the world, Hodge, in just his second year as a professional, took on Ironman 70.3 Japan in Tokoname.Â The 2012 race saw Chris McCormack and Tim Berkel go head to head down to the wire with McCormack taking the title. With both racing Ironman Cairns this year it was up to young Aussie’s Hodge, Michael Fox and Alex Reithmeier to wave the flag for the Aussie men.
The lanky Tasmanian from Launceston has been on the verge of another win so far this season with strong performances against top fields using his powerful swim/bike combination to lead from the front and have the rest of the field chase him. In Auckland at the Asia Pacific 70.3 Championships he attacked off the front of a big bike group and lead them on his own for much of the 90km bike leg and managed to hang on for a top 5 placing. Moving onto Geelong he mixed it with high caliber athletes including the renowned swim/biker Clayton Fettel, an athlete Hodge admires and looks up to and it is fair to say a very similar style of racer.
Attempting to defend his Busselton 70.3 title, which he won in 2012 on debut, Hodge swam and rode away from a strong field including Olympian Brad Kahlefeldt, ultimately claiming third behind the two time Olympian and the speedy and very accomplished Tim Reed. Hodge was due for another 70.3 win and Japan was the next target following advice from his management to try the offshore race and home of one of his sponsors, Asics.
Not many realize that the young Australian pro is in full time study for a radiography degree and currently in full study in Wagga, home town Kahlefeldt. With the pressure of exams upon him Hodge required special approval from his university to make the trip to Japan where he will return immediately post race to sit important half year exams. Happily for James, he returns to university exams and studies with some additional funds in his pocket.
A wire to wire win is how he took out his debut 70.3 title in Busselton last year and once again â€œHodgemateâ€ lead out of the 1.9km out and back swim to then put the foot down to post the day’s best bike split to set himself up for the win. A 1:15 run in the hot Japanese conditions through sleepy fishing villages and the Tokoname coastline was all he needed to cross the line for his second ironman 70.3 title at just 21 years of age in a time of just 3 hours 50 minutes.
James Hodge has an obvious natural talent, hard work ethic and some smart, experienced people advising him. It seems the extremely talented and successful Smokin’ Joe Gambles will not be the only Tasmanian 70.3 star on the scene in the years to come.Â All of us at Trizone.com.au will look forward to watching another young Aussie’s career develop as the experience builds and no doubt top results continue to flow.
For Michael Fox the results online don’t tell the full story. Fox was second off the bike behind Hodge and struggled early on in the run. At the 11km mark he came good and set off in pursuit of third place. At the end of the day Fox got within 20 seconds after putting in a solid second half of the run. This is a good result and takes Fox another step closer to hitting his potential and podiuming at a 70.3.
Full results Ironman.com
|Olaf, Kasten||Hong Kong||0:29:43||2:14:07||1:20:29||4:09:09||1||16|
|Jamie, HUNT||New Zealand||0:26:56||2:16:05||1:22:26||4:10:19||2||18|
|Alexandre, Reinert||Hong Kong||0:27:36||2:16:28||1:21:52||4:10:46||3||19|