Experienced Kiwi triathletes Cameron Brown and Jo Lawn have a dozen good reasons for success in the sport’s toughest test in this weekend’s Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
They are the most experienced Hawaii veterans in the field for Sunday’s 3.8k swim, 180km bike and 42km run in the cauldron of Kona on the Big Island.
Brown and Lawn are each competing in their 12th straight time at the world championships, a feat not matched by any other in the stellar field, this year limited to just 50 men and 30 women as a result of a new qualifying format.
While Brown and Lawn are old hands, compatriot Sam Warriner, even though the oldest of the kiwi trio at 40, reckons she has her learner plate on in her first time in one of the world’s iconic sporting tests.
Brown, 39 and Lawn 38, know that this could be their last time in Hawaii, although both have been in impressive form this season.
Brown has come to Kona unusually late, preferring to complete his build-up at home in Auckland for the first time.
“It’s a lot easier back at home in an environment that is totally supportive. The weather has been reasonable for training and the heat in Kona has never been an issue for me. I know what to do here and what this placed throws at you. Accordingly this time around it has been quite relaxing.
“For me it is probably the last throw of the dice. I’ve come so close but never had that perfect day that you need to stand on top of the podium.
After an unprecedented 10th victory in Ironman New Zealand in March, Brown has enjoyed another solid season.
“I continue to improve as an athlete, keep getting better. The build-up has gone well. I know what to expect and I wou
ld love to push back up on the podium again.”
Brown is a four-time podium finisher, the last time was second back in 2005 but in three of the last four times in Hawaii he has been outside the top 15.
Lawn has defied her age with a superb year over the Ironman 70.3 circuit (or half Ironman distance), a race she had shied away from because of a perceived lack of speed on the run.
But she was a superb fifth at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas last month and has won three times over the distance this year, showing speed and strength on the run since moving back under the guidance of coach Chris Pilone in that part of her training.
With her qualification for Ironman not sealed until the end of August, Lawn concentrated her training on the shorter distance for Las Vegas, gambling that the many years of miles in her legs will help her through in Sunday’s race.
“The good thing is I have no expectations here at all. I am the last qualifier and I have not done the massive miles of the past
. It’s going to be interesting and I am looking forward to just enjoying it. I think I might surprise a few.”
Lawn has been in the top 10 on six occasions and twice was just one place off the podium.
Warriner, the former Olympic distance World Cup champion and world championship medallist, only moved up to the full Ironman distance in earnest this year with a debut victory in Ironman New Zealand over world champion Australian Mirinda Carfrae and Lawn. She has prepared well for her first venture to Kona in a race where the heat, humidity, trade winds and legend throws up so many challenges.
“I am still learning with Ironman,” said Warriner “I never go in and win straight away. I’ve always learned how to race triathlon then did well at it. I learned how to race ITU and then did well. I learned how to race 70.3 and then I did well. Now with Ironman I am still learning.
“It’s Hawaii and it’s the world champs. I will be daunted. But my aim is to stick to my race plan and I can’t think about what the others are doing. If I do my race plan and execute it then that’s all I can do and that is what I will be focussing on.”
Australian athletes, who took out both titles at the ironman 70.3 Worlds, are looking to prosper with two-times winner Craig Alex
ander a favourite but with Sydney’s Pete Jacobs a real prospect in the men while Carfrae’s battle with three-time champion Chrissie Wellington should be a barnstormer.
There are 37 New Zealanders who have qualified for the Ironman World Championships with Brown, Lawn and Warriner in the professional elite race starting at 5.45am on Sunday (NZ time) and the following in the age group categories:
18-24 years: Larisa Marsh (Auckland), Chris Sanson (Levin).
25-29: Jessica Lawson (Tauranga), Scott McNabb (Christchurch), Chris Quirk (Australia), Simon Cochrane (Auckland).
30-34: Cameron Durno (Taupo), Elizabeth Goer (Auckland), Hilary Wicks (Auckland), Ashley Honey (USA), Rob Creasy (Otago),
35-39: Deano Gaskin (Wellington), Margo Southgate (Wellington), Jon Woods (Tasmania), Richard Na
40-44: Kelly Edwards (Auckland), Francis Evett (Wellington), Scott Richdale (Auckland), Jared Preston (USA), Theresa Bidwell (Auckland), Craig Martyn (USA).
45-49: Peter O’Brien (Christchurch), Glenn Wright (Auckland).
50-54: Ross Lockey (Coatesville), Sue McMaster (Palmerston North), Philip Morreau (Auckland), Marilyn Morrison (Martinborough).
55-59: Gary Burgess (Levin).
60-64: Kevin Lowe (Australia), Robert Allemann (New Plymouth), Lee Moreton (Invercargill).
65-69: Tiare Lund (Kumeu), Peter Taylor (Taupo).
75 plus: Garth Barfoot (North Harbour).