Tough­est of bat­tles in New Zealand

Multisport Mecca - - News - Grant Ed­wards Grant.Ed­wards@news.com.au

AF­TER 10 suc­cess­ful fin­ishes at Iron­man New Zealand, 2017 was the tough­est for Coolum Beach’s Dessie Gourlay.

Strong winds whipped up the swim course and made con­di­tions ex­tremely dif­fi­cult on the bike.

High at­tri­tion num­bers at­tested to the course bat­tles, with many un­able to meet the 2hr 20min swim cut-off. More than 180 didn’t fin­ish.

Re­turn­ing home to New Zealand has al­ways made the event spe­cial for Dessie. He has com­pleted two in Auck­land, and the past eight straight at Taupo.

His fam­ily turned out in force, all wear­ing a 10-year cel­e­bra­tion sin­glet to hon­our his ef­forts.

“That was the hard­est of the 10 be­cause of the weather,” he said.

“It was the tough­est I have ever done it. It wasn’t like it is in the ocean when it’s rough, the waves were com­ing from ev­ery di­rec­tion.

“A lot of peo­ple drank wa­ter on the swim... lucky it was pure New Zealand wa­ter.

“Af­ter the swim it was sur­vival mode for ev­ery­one. There was a tail wind early and it was a false sense of se­cu­rity. As soon as you turned around you re­alised it was like a tor­nado be­hind you.”

Dessie will re­turn again next year, with an aim to com­plete his 12th Iron­man – hav­ing also com­pleted Cairns once.

That will put him in line for a legacy spot at the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship in Kona.

“I would like to earn it (in my age group), but if you don’t you take it any way you can,” he said.

There was no rest for Dessie when he re­turned home, com­plet­ing the Mooloolaba Triathlon in 2:18:40 (26:58, 1:04:03, 43:01) which saw him 12th in the 45–49 age group.

Mean­while, for­mer Coolan­gatta Gold win­ner Josh Minogue had a bit­ter­sweet ex­pe­ri­ence.

Head­ing to New Zealand full of con­fi­dence af­ter be­ing the first age grouper home at Hell of the West, the Iron­man chal­lenge proved hum­bling.

He still fin­ished in an out­stand­ing time of 9:32:12, but missed a Kona slot by one po­si­tion when he fin­ished fourth in the men’s 30–34 di­vi­sion.

Af­ter an solid 50:56 swim where he led the field, the WIN Tele­vi­sion sports pre­sen­ter then faced a hefty chal­lenge on the bike.

“I don’t think I have been more out of depth in a sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

“On the first lap on the bike, the wind was hook­ing at 35km an hour. Be­cause of the hills it was swirling.

“I was in a bit of shock be­cause I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it. In the days lead­ing up there hadn’t been a breath of wind.

“The sec­ond lap was a lit­tle bit bet­ter. It was a strong head wind but that was what I was ex­pect­ing. There were times you were with it and then it would smash you in the face.

“I think ev­ery­one used a whole lot more en­ergy than they wanted (on the bike). It set a lot of peo­ple up for a tough marathon.”

Look­ing back at the event, Josh was philo­soph­i­cal about the ex­pe­ri­ence and has a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the full dis­tance triathlon.

“Iron­man is def­i­nitely tougher than the Coolan­gatta Gold or the Kel­logg’s se­ries where you get heart rate up but then rest in be­tween races,” he said.

“This is that con­sis­tent ef­fort and you go through low pe­ri­ods. That’s the tough­est part to fight out of the low pe­ri­ods.

“Half­way through the bike I thought ‘never again’. I’m look­ing to get some more ex­pe­ri­ence and go again next year.”

Josh Minogue on the marathon at Iron­man Zew Zealand.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

Coolum’s Dessie Gourlay had strong fam­ily sup­port, with ev­ery­one wear­ing com­mem­o­ra­tive 10-year sin­glets (pic­tured right).

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