Queenstown triathlete Adam Wilson fulfils a dream today by competing in the prestigious Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
He qualified by placing third in his 30-34 age group in Ironman New Zealand in Taupo in March.
In the process he broke his age group’s bike course record for the event, covering the 180 kilometres in 4 hours 50 minutes.
“A couple of guys nearly ran me down [in the marathon] so if I hadn’t biked so fast I might not have made it.”
The 34-year-old’s stoked to have qualified – “a lot of people dream about racing there and never get the opportunity”.
He’s the first local to qualify since John Knight and Geoff Matthews, who weren’t yet full-time Queenstowners when they competed in the 1990s.
Wilson says Matthews and Knight, whose Outside Sports has sponsored his bike, have been great support.
He admits he’ll be in disbelief if he matches his 9hr 14min time in Taupo because of the conditions in Hawaii.
“On average, the temperature’s between 30 and 32 [celsius] but then you’ve got close to 100 per cent humidity, and apparently the tarmac just absorbs the heat – most people say the air temperature on the road is more like in the 40s.”
Wilson’s in his best ever nick for the 3.8km swim.
He reckons the sooner he finishes, the more chance he has of attaching himself to a group of fast cyclists.
While his normal philosophy is to go hard, in the Hawaiian heat he’ll keep something back for the run.
That tactic’s made harder by the field’s fast pace.
“A lot of people get carried away, ride above their regular speed and then struggle to finish.”
From mid-April till last month’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mooloolaba, Australia, he’s ridden exclusively indoors.
While on his stationary bike he’s watched Tour de France cycle races or action movies “to get fired up” and cranked up the heat to simulate Hawaii.
“I’ve tried to do a couple of runs a week outside otherwise you go insane.”
Amazingly, Wilson only took up the sport at 28.
“If I’d started younger, I probably would have had a crack at going pro.
“The main reason I do this is for a hobby and for fun and to get me away from bars a bit and out in the mountains.”