Photo: World Triathlon
By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
After a tough second half of the season, Hayden Wilde is set to hit the reset button with a step up in distance at next month’s Ironman 70.3 Melbourne.
The Whakatane Falcon is on the start list for the 1.9km run, 90km bike, 21.1km run test in St Kilda with an eye to qualifying for the 2024 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Taupo.
That will be no cinch with the likes of mid-stance specialist Steve McKenna and fellow Aussies Charlie Quin, Matt Burton and Nicholas Free expected to race although Wilde has ample speed, pent up frustration and the lure of racing for a world title on home soil on December 14-15 next year.
Taupo conveniently falls four months after Wilde hopes to add Paris Olympic gold to his Tokyo bronze and Birmingham Commonwealth Games silver.
“I was born in Taupo so it would be rude not to try and get a qualification spot,” Wilde said on Instagram where he also announced he would race the famous Noosa Triathlon (standard distance) on Sunday week, November 5.
“I’ve always wanted to race here [Noosa], 40th anniversary, and the most appealing part is that it is a non drafting race so can’t wait to get on the TT bike in the next two races and then finish off, go on holiday and let the legs rest and recover.”
The 26-year-old’s 2023 has been a clichéd year of two halves with World Cup victory in New Plymouth and WTCS wins Yokohama and Hamburg the early highlights. There was also some late relief with a repeat Super League triumph in Malibu but Wilde’s luck most definitely turned after he claimed the duel WTCS/World Sprint Championship title and a Mixed Relay silver medal for New Zealand in Hamburg.
A well-documented bike crash en route to the race venue saw Wilde withdraw from the Paris Olympic test event and the lost points were a contributing factor in his eventual runner-up finish to Dorian Coninx for the overall WTCS title.
The hip injury suffered in Paris also saw Wilde WD from the Super League opener in London. Coupled with a transition bungle in Toulouse and last weekend’s short chute debacle in Neom, Wilde was also forced to settle for second overall behind another Frenchman, Leo Bergere.
Wilde’s last 70.3 was in Taupo in 2019 when he finished third behind pal Kyle Smith and Aussie Max Neumann in a time of 3:52:39.
The Kiwi No.1’s last long-distance race was as a wildcard at last year’s PTO Collins Cup where the Team International star finished second in his match to European rep Kristian Blummenfelt.