Super mum and veteran lead the Kiwi charge at Ironman Cairns

Super mum and veteran lead the Kiwi charge at Ironman Cairns
Cam getting up and close with the some locals in Cairns

A Kiwi super mum and a forty-something Ironman legend are hoping to upset the Australians in Sunday’s Ironman Cairns triathlon.

At 41 ten-time Ironman New Zealand champion Cameron Brown is hoping to defy his status as the oldest elite in the men’s field in Sunday’s race while Wanaka’s Gina Crawford is hoping to continue her winning form in Australia.

Last year Brown enjoyed a successful Australian season with a runner-up in Ironman Melbourne and in then again in Cairns. It’s fair to say that after laying a solid foundation for a successful 2012, his last seven months have been anything but.

He was forced out before the start of the Ironman World Championships in October, had to be content with third at Ironman New Zealand, his first loss at the full distance in Taupo since 2001, and pulled out half way into the bike leg of Ironman Melbourne.

“It has been a crappy six months since Hawaii really but hopefully things are on the up,” Brown said. “It is a fantastic race, stunning coastline and great destination.

“It’s a really long drag back into town on the run, around 25kms so being mentally strong and staying strong out there will see you pull through and on to the podium.”

Brown is up against two-time world champion Chris McCormack, another 40-something in the race, and some young guns led by Australian Ironman 70.3 Champion Tim Berkel, Clayton Fettell, five time Ironman winner Luke McKenzie and Matty White amongst others.

“The young guys, Clayton especially, will really push hard on the bike. But it’s a long day and a tough run, so hopefully the experience will win out in the long term.”

McCormack has decided to start despite being hospitalised with a kidney complaint earlier in the week, but cleared by medical staff that he cannot do any further damage.

Auckland’s Simon Cochrane and former Olympic cyclist Matt Randall form a New Zealand trio in the field.

Crawford, a six-time Ironman winner, has won twice in Australia and has freshened up in more ways than one after a busy start to the year.

Gina Crawford knows how to win at Ironman
Gina Crawford knows how to win at Ironman

“It has been mentally tough training at home in Wanaka. I’ve had to do some runs at minus 5C deg and highs are only 5 or 6C deg and you are out there for seven hours on the bike. I came here at the weekend to give myself time to acclimatize but I really enjoy racing in the heat.”

She believes her run will be the key factor on Sunday when she takes on the likes of Olympic distance convert Liz Blatchford, with Auckland’s Anna Ross keen on a strong showing after her 10th place in the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne.

Crawford mixes life as a mother and a professional athlete, although knows firmly where her priority lies.

“I see myself more as a mum than a pro triathlete. My training is different now as a mother. I restrict training to 20 hours. The first five years of a child’s life is just so important and that takes priority.”

There is also the Ironman 70.3 (half distance) race on the same day, which has drawn stellar fields with Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs in a hot field with two budding Olympic distance athletes Brad Kahlfeldt and Courtney Atkinson in the men’s field.

New Zealand long distance champion Graham O’Grady (Taupo) and Coast to Coast overall winner Braden Currie.

Another Kiwi mother, Samantha Warriner, who has recently returned to the sport after the birth of her daughter, is one of the favourites in the women’s race with defending champion Sarah Crowley and recent Ironman Australia winner Rebecca Hoschke.