Queenstown has a new age group world champion in its sporting ranks.
Triathlete Jason Hall won his 18- to 24-year age group – with four minutes to spare – at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mooloolaba, on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, last Sunday.
In a field of about 3000 athletes from 83 countries, he was also 35th overall, finishing behind mostly pro triathletes in 4 hours 6 minutes and 21 seconds.
He was just 22 minutes behind the winner, Aussie Tim Reed, and three minutes ahead of the fastest woman.
Auckland-born Hall, 24, says he’s “super-happy” to win his age group, and says he’ll now turn pro following next month’s Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii.
“It kind of feels like a rite of passage – win my age group and then step up into the pro ranks.”
Hall, who qualified for Mooloolaba after another good race there a year ago, was fifth in his age group in the 1.9 kilometre swim, second in the 90km bike leg and fastest in the 21.1km half-marathon run.
“To be honest, I knew I could [win], it was just about putting it all together.
“It’s a lot of relief ‘cos I hadn’t raced since March.”
He’s also had to train through a Queenstown winter, doing a lot of his cycle training on a machine and running on a treadmill.
He did, however, spend last month training in Sydney, where he was schooled, and also had a week in Mooloolaba with his coach and training partner Braden Currie, who’s from Wanaka.
Hall says he did triathlons at school but took a break during four years at Dunedin’s Otago University before taking up the sport again, just under two years ago.
Many triathletes his age, he says, “have got six years of riding in their legs and at the moment ‘ve only really got a year-and-a-half of proper riding”.
He says running is his strongest discipline “but everything’s starting to build”.
Hall, who’s lived in Queenstown for a year and intends staying, adds that he’s indebted to support from his family – his parents Sue and Jamie and sister Terri were his support crew last Sunday.
His first race as a pro will be Ironman 70.3 Taupo on December 10.
Meanwhile, fellow Queenstowner Adam Wilson finished 230th in Mooloolaba – and 64th in his 30- to 34-year age group – in 4:23.29sec.