By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi in Tauranga
Here at Tri NZ, we love a gold medal performance or world championship title (Go Hayden!) but not half as much as we admire the everyday New Zealanders getting on with giving the sport they love a good, old-fashioned Kiwi go.
Welcome then to ‘The Final Few’, our video tribute to all the inspirational weekend warriors who made the 2022 GenX/Marra Tinman in Tauranga a celebration of all that is great about triathlon on Sunday.
At the upper level, the sport is super fit and frenzied, sometimes frighteningly expensive and all about minimal gains. But triathlon (or duathlon or aquabike or aquathlon or CrossTri) needn’t be costly (dust off that old mountain bike) nor intimidating. Done right, it’s nothing more than pushing yourself out the door for some swim, bike and run fun.
The Final Few salutes four such legends at various junctures along the tri life journey.
Aucklander Tre Merlo admits his build-up to the 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run sprint race at Tinman probably could have been better but it didn’t stop him making the start-line on a beautiful Sunday at ‘The Mount’.
Ōmokoroa’s Janine Parker is an experienced triathlete and even raced Ironman NZ 2005. But like so many, she’d fallen off the training wagon as the pandemic caused event cancellations, wiping race date after race date off the calendar and with it the motivation to get out for a dip, ride or training trot. Tinman, and more specifically Triathlon Tauranga’s excellent TriSTARTER initiative, was her way back.
Like Parker, Mount Maunganui’s Jan Walker competed in triathlon a good 15 years ago and wanted to prove to herself she could do another before she turned 60, which “is not far away.”
Walker’s finish, hand-in-hand with Aucklander Mary Starr who was bravely competing in her very first triathlon after shouting herself a bike for her 50th, was one of the poignant moments of Tinman. Two complete strangers, banding together for the final few challenging kilometres to make it home. To glory. To new friendships, even if they’re only fleeting, knowing nods at a race in the not-too-distant future. Once you’ve done one, chances are you’ll be back for more.
If you’re inspired to follow in the footsteps of The Final Few, pop over to our ‘Getting Started’ and ‘Find a Club’ pages at Triathlon.kiwi (a new and improved version of which is coming soon!). You can also find your first race at our ‘Events calendar’.
We implore you to give it a go but don’t take our word for it. Trust the awesome Final Few foursome. Triathlon isn’t easy but be warned – it’s utterly addictive once you start. The physical and mental health benefits, the comradery and the finish line make it all worth it. Especially that finish line.