If Ironman is about the race day experience for you then Ironman New Zealand is one of the best Ironman experiences in the world. Just ask anyone who has done it and other Ironman events around the world. From the day you arrive in the city of Taupo in the middle of the North Island to the day you leave every bit will remain a memory of a lifetime.
AsÂ a Kiwi living in Australia and planning on doing my first Ironman in 2014 I was torn between which one I should do. Melbourne because of the smooth surfacedÂ bike course, Ironman Australia because ofÂ the large number of people I would know racing and spectating, Bussleton because of the flat run course (I hate running up inclines of any description) were the initial choices but then more and more people kept telling me if you are going to do just one Ironman go and do Ironman New Zealand. Well known people in the sport who have raced at high levels all over the world kept saying that New Zealand is one of the best experiences.Â My goal for my first Ironman was to enjoy the experience.
New Zealand ended upÂ choosingÂ itself.
The city of Taupo embraces Ironman like no other. Aid stations start popping up weeks before the eventÂ to support theÂ people who arrive well in advance to put the final touches on their Ironman training.
Situated on Lake Taupo (160km around) the race is one of the few where you can actually drink the water you are swimming in to keep hyrdrated during this stage of the race.
This is not just about the Ironman event itself. Taking in Lake Taupo and theÂ mountains in the distance is how most start each day. The famous Maori Rock Carvings are a must do as are many of the adventure sports around Taupo. White water rafting, Bungee Jumping, Sailing, Trout Fishing and more are all within minutes from the city centre.
Ironman New Zealand itself did not disappoint. From the start of the bike course there were crowds lining the roads. No quite like Frankfurt but not far off. The crowds started to thin as we headed out in to the country but never disappeared. Every intersection on the bike course had a campervan or two with supporters cheering us on. The far turnaround had a great crowd that were very enthusiastic. The tough bike course and rough road surface that I had been hearing about never materialised and my choice of training road from Nowra on New South Wales south coast inland towards Canberra turned out to be a great decision. That trainingÂ was tougher and rougher.
Out in to the country, crowds with campervans started popping up at every crossroad and kept lining the 45kms heading out to the far turn around. Back in to town and the crowds lining the roads kept growing and growing.
The three lap run course was even more spectacular. There were never any stretches of road that did not haveÂ supporters of some sort cheering the athletes on. This was unlike any Ironman I had seen in Australia.
There is no doubt that Ironman New Zealand should be one of your must do Ironmans.