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Harpham’s aiming high

A top 10 world ranking and challenging for world championships are the long-term goals for recently turned professional Carterton triathlete, Scott Harpham.

The talented 30-year-old received his professional endorsement after finishing second in the 30-34 age group and 10th overall in the Cairns Ironman in Queensland in June. However, it took some convincing from Harpham before Triathlon NZ agreed to issue a professional license.

His time of eight hours, 51 minutes, 11 seconds was outside the 10 per cent time frame from the winner Australian Max Neumann, who ran a course record of 7hr 52:53, with Kiwi Braden Currie second about two minutes behind, and Australian Sam Appleton third in 8:05:53.

“I sent a message to Triathlon NZ and said these two guys have just come off a world champs where Braden was third overall, and I’m outside that 10 per cent, but the third place getter is ranked in the top 20 in the world and I’m within the 10 per
cent of him,” Harpham said

“They accepted it and said it was a great time and were happy to support the professional endorsement.”

Turning professional has been the culmination of more than 18 months of training for Harpham, who gave up work in February 2021 to concentrate on his goal of being a top-line triathlete.

“I wanted to commit fulltime, and you don’t become the best in the world by doing anything half-assed, and I made the call then to quit work and commit fulltime to training, and I’ve done that since.”

Harpham, who is self-coached, works on a training regime of 25 to 30 hours a week swimming, cycling, and running as well as gym work, physiotherapy, saunas and the like.

Now that Harpham has done the groundwork, he just wants to get out and race and put in some good performances.

Harpham’s first professional race will be the 70.3 Ironman in Taupo next month, followed in January by Tauranga half Ironman, featuring former world champion Javier Gomez from Spain. He will then contest the Challenge Wanaka half ironman in February before tackling Ironman NZ in March in Taupo.

Harpham’s short-term goals are to establish himself as a top New Zealand professional triathlete this summer before having a crack at the world stage.

“Medium-long term, I would love to be ranked as one of the best in the top 10 in the world and be right up there competing for a world championship, and that’s my long-term goal over the next five to 10 years,” he said.

“I’m really keen, especially if there are any Wairarapa businesses I can get alongside because I would love to represent Wairarapa on the world stage.”

Harpham is also available as a guest or motivational speaker for businesses, conferences, organisations, and schools in an effort to raise his profile.

Although the 30s were once considered to be the ideal age to reach the prime as a professional ironman, Harpham said the major championships are now being won by triathletes in their 20s. The times are also getting quicker, with the top 10 men in this year’s world championships in Kona, Hawaii, in under eight hours.

That won’t deter Harpham, who knows it won’t be easy to crack the big time, but he won’t lack for support and motivation to attain his goals. His partner Sarah Linton is also an accomplished athlete, having represented New Zealand in barefoot waterskiing.

As reported in Wednesday’s Times-Age, Linton recently returned from Australia with a gold medal, two silvers, and three bronze medals from the Oceania Waterskiing Championships and will front for her first professional boxing fight in Auckland next Friday.

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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