Iron­man cap­tures the highs and lows

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Each Iron­man 70.3 Auck­land com­peti­tor, whether they be world cham­pion triath­letes or ev­ery­day Ki­wis, has a story be­hind how they came to stand at that start­ing line.

And former Iron­man pho­tog­ra­pher Kurt Bran­don has seen it all.

The Free­mans Bay res­i­dent was the orig­i­nal pho­tog­ra­pher for the Iron­man New Zealand races as Auck­land be­came the event’s first in­ter­na­tional venue in 1985, play­ing host for 14 years be­fore it moved to Taupo.

Mr Bran­don pho­tographed the race un­til the mid 1990s and has stepped across the fin­ish line as a com­peti­tor in 1987, 1989 and 2009.

The 46-year-old will be com­pet­ing in the in­au­gu­ral Iron­man 70.3 Auck­land on Sun­day tread­ing parts of the orig­i­nal Iron­man course from 1985.

‘‘One of the great things about not rac­ing and hav­ing ac­cess to the course is you got to see a lot of ath­letes from the front and back of the pack. So you saw some big smiles and some real pain,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s a hugely in­di­vid­ual event and there are hun­dreds of sto­ries out there for why some­one would want to be out on the course for eight or 16 hours.’’

A high­light for Mr Bran­don was snap­ping former pro­fes­sional triath­lete and two-time win­ner of the Hawaii Iron­man event Scott Tin­ley sit­ting on a road side.

‘‘He’d pulled out and had had a guts-full.’’

Be­ing the first on the scene to crashes in­volv­ing lead­ing com­peti­tors was also an eye-opener, he says.

‘‘Ev­ery­one has their own goals and that’s what the Iron­man and half-Iron­man events are really good for. They al­low peo­ple to push them­selves to their own lim­its.’’

This week­end’s race is Auck­land’s in­au­gu­ral Iron­man 70.3 event and the first time the triathlon has gone over the Har­bour Bridge.

The 70.3 refers to the to­tal dis­tance in miles (113 kilo­me­tres) cov­ered in the race.

The event is the of­fi­cial Asia Pa­cific Iron­man Cham­pi­onship and there will be 30 qual­i­fy­ing spots to the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onships in Hawaii.

Iron­man 70.3 Auck­land man­ager Janette Blyth is ex­cited about the event and its fu­ture.

‘‘Like Iron­man New Zealand, we be­lieve it will be­come a must-do event for both in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors and Ki­wis.’’

Pho­tos: MARK TAY­LOR

Iron­man de­tails: Iron­man 70.3 is a half iron-dis­tance triathlon con­sist­ing of a 1.9km swim, 90km cy­cle and 21.1km run.

Photo: JESS LEE

Can­did cam­era: Former Iron­man pho­tog­ra­pher Kurt Bran­don cap­tured the highs and lows of the gru­elling triathlons from Auck­land’s first event in 1985 un­til the 1990s.

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