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Harpham happy with Ironman performance

“Happy, but never satisfied.”

That was Scott Harpham’s assessment of his seventh placing and personal best [PB] time in Ironman NZ in Taupō on Saturday.

The Carterton professional triathlete completed the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and marathon run in a PB of eight hours 33 minutes and 32 seconds, bettering his previous best by about 20 minutes, a pleasing result on what he reckoned was a “pretty brutal day”.

“The lake was incredibly choppy, and I had an absolutely shocking swim as a result of that,” Harpham said.

“I had no idea how to punch through the chop, and I got spat right out the back, and that put me out of top-five contention.”

Harpham’s swim time of 1:00:57 was about five minutes slower than usual, and he came out of the water eight minutes behind the leaders in 15th. However, the bike leg proved more productive and he moved up to eighth in the first half before a difficult final stretch home into a strong headwind, not helped by losing a key nutrition bottle, which would later impact on the marathon run.

“I was happy enough with the bike time [4:28:13] – that was in the range where I’d been training, and I managed to claw back a lot of places.

“My run legs weren’t particularly great, but I was chipping away okay, and as is typical in the Ironman, the back end of the run is where your earlier decisions come back to haunt you, and I started to slow down a bit and had to manage quite a bit of cramping for the last 5–6km; my hamstring was grabbing so it was a managed fade right the way to the finish line. Harpham finished the marathon run in 2:57:48, about seven minutes slower than he had hoped but was happy given that he pulled out during the run in Taupo last year and walked three-quarters of the marathon in Ironman Australia.

“A rough swim plus losing that nutrition bottle on the bike means that especially with the amount of salt I had in that bottle probably means that the last 10–12km, I had to really manage cramp.

“A big improvement and a big PB for me – by about 20 odd minutes – and heaps of confidence in the fact that was an average or below average day for me, and that still gets me close-ish to being competitive, so a decent day will get me close to competing for the top five or maybe the back end of the podium,” he said.

Harpham now plans to tackle Ironman Australia in Port Macquarie, NSW, in May and Iron Man Cairns in June.

Other Wairarapa triathletes also produced some outstanding results in Taupō on Saturday.

In the men’s 30–34 age group, Ben Twyman was 19th in 10:52:51, and Joseph McKenzie was 24th in 11:16:36. Destry Gourlay was 14th in the men’s 55–59 age group in 12:14:10; Marcus Fellowes fished 22nd in the men’s 50–54 class in 11:24:35, and Neville Biel was 39th in the men’s 60–64 age group in 16:11:51.

In the Ironman 70.3 race, Sue Bankier was an impressive four in the women’s 60–64 category in 5:58:30; Gemma Kennedy was 11th in the women’s 30–34 in 5:29:31; Gavin Champion was 14th in the men’s 50–59 in 5:17:16; and former Carterton mayor Greg Lang was 28th in the men’s 55–59 in 5:45:10.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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