Photos: Nomadic Media

By Kent Gray/ in Napier
When you answer to the nickname “Promo Joe” at work, being thrown into the deep end of challenges you’re sometimes uncomfortable with is all in a day’s work.

But what happens when the deep end is the oft-tempestuous South Pacific Ocean off Ahuriri Beach and the start point of a sporting challenge you openly admit to having “hated” the only other time you gave it a go?

Promo Joe, aka MediaWorks Hawke’s Bay Promotions Coordinator Joe Andrews, is excited to find out this Sunday. No, honestly.

Promo Joe, left, on air with Hawke’s Bay’s The Breeze Breakfast host Martin Good.

The 21-year-old has signed up for the New Zealand Age Group Sprint Triathlon Championships, the open-to-all Tri NZ Suzuki Series event attached to a huge weekend of elite racing promised at World Triathlon Cup Napier.

RELATED: World Triathlon Cup Napier to be streamed live on TVNZ+

When we say ‘signed up’, we really mean gently persuaded in a not career-limiting kind of way. You see, Promo Joe and swimming have never really gelled but that minor detail was never going to sway Matt Hastings, the new, tri-crazy GM of MediaWorks Hawke’s Bay.

Hastings is an overt advocate of swim, bike, run, having turned to triathlon when a fourth knee surgery ended his 30-year football career in 2021. Within 18 months he had qualified for and raced at the Ironman 70.3 worlds in Finland, finishing in a smart 4hr 38mins in Lahti. As recently as last weekend he placed second in the 35-39 age group at the Tarawera Ultra-Trail 50k.

So, Promo Joe had nowhere to go when the boss suggested he might like to race the NZ Sprint Championships, Hastings’ own starting point in tri when the event was previously held in New Plymouth.

“This was definitely me getting sucked in to doing this by our new boss Matt Hastings in late November last year,” Andrews says with a laugh.

“I was surprised how quickly it took, from a non-swimmer, to go, ‘yeah, let’s do it’. It probably took him about three minutes to rope me into it.”

Like many newbies, Promo Joe’s main concern isn’t the 20km bike or the 5km run on Sunday, rather the 750m swim off Westshore.

“I’ve never been good at swimming. I did all the lessons when I was a kid, went down to the local swimming pool and did it with school and all that kind of stuff and was always in the lowest group they can put you in,” said the former St Bede’s College student.

Thankfully coach Jo Parsons and the team at Aquatics Hastings have worked their magic as Promo Joe has knuckled down into his training in the past month.

He’s bravely charted his progress in regular on-air catch-ups with Hawke’s Bay’s The Breeze Breakfast host Martin Good and on the station’s Facebook page. Check out the video here by clicking on this poolside pic:

“What we’ve found doing the swim lessons is breath control is the main issue and everything else will sort itself out. That’s been the big thing we’ve been pushing, basically just being as comfortable as you possibly can under water which is probably something I haven’t had until the last week or so.”

Promo Joe’s triathlon journey actually started like many other Kiwi kids growing up in Christchurch. It just wasn’t as enjoyable as most find their introduction to the sport.

“I remember doing the Weet-Bix TRYathlon back in the day and I hated it,” Andrews said.

“I remember getting up at 5:30 in the morning and having to travel to out to Jellie Park in Christchurch to do, it was the type of morning you just didn’t want to have. It was just chaos in the pool and the biking and the running was all good but it just a long morning you didn’t want to have.”

Thankfully, due to the “great support of Aquatics Hastings”, Promo Joe is feeling much more positive about Sunday.

“I’ve started enjoying the swimming and I can say I’ve never, ever liked going for a swim. Yeah, that’s been a great outcome over the last few weeks.

“It’s a little bit daunting. That 750m is [still] going to be…it’s going to be one of the toughest 20 minutes of my life I’d say but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be good fun.”

Surely there will be nerves?

“I’m a pretty laid-back guy and wouldn’t say I get too nervous but when I’m lining up at 8am on Sunday, I’d say the nerves will be pretty high.

“The goal is to get across that finish line without a doubt. I don’t really care how it looks or how long it takes, just get across that finish line in one piece.” suspects Promo Joe will get sucked in again – by the inspiring atmosphere and camaraderie that comes standard at Tri NZ Suzuki Series events.

While Sunday’s age group races double as a qualifier for the World Triathlon Age-Group Championships in Malaga this October, they also open to anyone keen to give triathlon a go.

It’s not too late to join Promo Joe on the start-line Sunday. For information, race over to HERE.

If you don’t fancy racing, be sure to head down to Ahuriri to cheer on Hayden Wilde and all the elite Kiwis competing in the World Triathlon Cup and Oceania Junior (U19) Championships.

The start times for the weekend’s races are as follows:

Saturday, February 24
12:45pm: Oceania Junior (U19) Championship – Women
2:30pm: Oceania Junior (U19) Championship – Men

4:15pm: World Triathlon Cup Napier – Elite women
6:15pm: World Triathlon Cup Napier – Elite men

Sunday, February 25
8am – Tri NZ SuzukI Series Age Group Sprint Championships – Men (8am), women (8:05am), teams (8:10am)

10:30am: Oceania Junior (U19) Mixed Relay Championships
12:30pm: World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Napier (Elite)

The elite and Oceania races will be streamed live on TVNZ+. Details of how you can watch all the world class racing on TVNZ+ can be found HERE

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