Al­ca­traz event a buzz: triath­lete

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By EVIE MARINKOVICH

Mata­mata fit­ness en­thu­si­ast Gavin Ford has crossed a new feat off his list, the Es­cape from Al­ca­traz triathlon in San Fran­cisco.

The triathlon, which fea­tures Al­ca­traz prison and the Golden Gate bridge saw Ford com­plete a 1.5 mile (2.4 kilo­me­tre) swim, an 18 mile (29km) bike ride and an eight-mile (13km) run.

Iron­i­cally, go­ing to the United States was the fur­thest dis­tance Ford had trav­elled for a triathlon, yet it was the short­est course he had com­peted in over the past two years.

It was not so much about the chal­lenge for Ford, but more about com­pet­ing in an event with iconic his­tory.

‘‘Af­ter about five min­utes into the swim, I stopped, looked back at Al­ca­traz, and took it all in.’’

Ford was one of only 2000 triath­letes from all over the world who were cho­sen to take part this year.

There were 300 places re­served for those with qual­i­fy­ing times, and the other 1700 places were a free-for-all.

‘‘Be­cause it’s so pop­u­lar you put your name down and they pull it out of a hat, it’s luck of the draw.’’

It was about four years ago when Ford gave up rugby that his love of triathlons be­gan.

‘‘ Some­times you get sick of go­ing for a run so you go for a ride in­stead and other times you get sick of go­ing for a ride so you go for a swim in­stead,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t have a coach or any­thing, I try to make up my own lit­tle train­ing plans. If I had a coach I would prob­a­bly get quicker, faster, but I’m not too wor­ried about that.’’

Not only is it his pas­sion for train­ing, but the peo­ple he meets that in­spire him to carry on.

‘‘There was a guy who was 70 do­ing it over there and that’s not un­com­mon,’’ he said.

‘‘Peo­ple in their six­ties do it, peo­ple of all shapes and sizes.’’

Ford’s train­ing regime dur­ing the win­ter sea­son con­sists of at least one swim each week and a three- to four-hour bike ride dur­ing the week­end.

‘‘In the sum­mer I do stuff ev­ery day,’’ Ford said.

‘‘It was a lit­tle bit tricky once day­light sav­ing fin­ished be­cause I couldn’t go out af­ter work and go for a ride. My rid­ing’s been lim­ited to the week­ends.’’

Even with lim­ited train­ing Ford placed 978th with a time of 3 hours 28 min­utes.

‘‘I was pretty happy, I’m usu­ally in the bot­tom 20 per cent,’’ he said laugh­ing.

New Zealand dou­ble Olympic medal­list Be­van Docherty was among the ranks of top triath­letes com­pet­ing in the event. He fin­ished third in 2 hours 5 min­utes. Race day was per­fect, Ford said. ‘‘I couldn’t have asked for a bet­ter day,’’ he said.

‘‘Now I’ve got a taste for it I might look at do­ing a bit more overseas.’’

In ac­tion: Gavin Ford near­ing the fin­ish line.

Ex­plorer: Gavin Ford and the Golden Gate bridge, San Fran­cisco.

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