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Ironman Harpham hits top form in Tauranga

A top-four finish in the Tauranga Half Ironman last Saturday has Carterton professional Scott Harpham confident of further success as he eyes some of the biggest events on the triathlon calendar.

Harpham crossed the finish line in fifth place, seven minutes behind winner Jack Moody but was promoted to fourth place after the disqualification of multiple world champion Javier Gomez for using outside assistance during the bike leg.

A podium finish was on target midway through the half-marathon run after Harpham had recorded personal bests for the swim [26 minutes and five seconds] and the 90km bike leg [1:56:20], but stomach cramps forced him to slow down and stop until he recovered.

“I came off the bike only five minutes off the lead and got through the first lap and clawed a minute back, so I thought, here we go, I’m on here, and then within 2km I was slowing down because of my guts cramped and 2kms later I’m back into it,” Harpham said.

“The guy I had passed on the run passed me back, and by the time I got going again, I couldn’t reel him in, so that cost me a podium spot.”

Despite the setback, the 31-year-old completed the 21km run in an impressive 1:15:55 and was just rapt to turn on a performance that reflected the effort he put in during training.

“The last few races, there’s always been a bit of discrepancy around just a normal training day and what I was putting out on the race course, which was frustrating me, and it’s nice to know that when I do put my training numbers out on the race course, it’s pretty competitive now.”

The result has given Harpham confidence that he can be a threat in his major target for the summer, Ironman New Zealand in Taupo in March, before he looks overseas.

“The original plan is to do Ironman Australia and then I’ll probably target the World Triathlon Long Distance Champs in August in Townsville,” he said.

“If Ironman NZ goes well and I finish in the top three, then I would qualify for Kona [Ironman World Championship], and that would change my plans completely, and I’d probably do Cairns in June and focus on Kona in October, but it all hinges on Ironman NZ.

“At the Ironman distance, anything can happen, and the way things are going, if I can execute similar to what I did on Saturday, I think I’ve got a shot to be in the mix. I don’t know, but it all depends on who turns up on the day and what happens, but that is what I’m certainly gunning for.”

Harpham wasn’t the only Wairarapa competitor at Tauranga. Dessie Gourlay [4:47:45], Joe McKenzie [4:52:40], Gavin Champion [4:57:35], James Goodger [5:03:47] and Greg Lang [5:12:20] also turned in useful performances.

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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