Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

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Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

Benefactor paves road to Aquabike World Championships

Posted on: Tuesday 2nd January 2018

Three hip reconstructions haven’t stopped octogenarian triathlete and patron of the sport, Garth Barfoot, from embarking on a new direction. With running now proving difficult, Barfoot has now turned his attention to Aquabike, investing in the growth of the sport in New Zealand by supporting Kiwis on the road to the 2018 ITU Aquabike World Championships in Denmark.

The Aquabike National Championships at Challenge Wanaka on 17 February 2018 is the first step to representing New Zealand in this emerging sport. The first eligible overall male and female across the line will win $2,500 towards return flights to Denmark plus eight nights accommodation at the ITU Aquabike World Championship. In addition, the first, second and third place getter in each gendered age group will win half the cost of eight nights shared accommodation for competing in the ITU Aquabike World Championship

Barfoot said he felt with the average age of amateur triathletes increasing, there was a gap in the market for a swim/bike event.

“It’s not rocket science to know that there was a gap in the market for a swim/bike, the other variations of the three disciplines of triathlon, namely bike/run (Duathlon) and swim/run (Aquathlon) have been around since last century. And with the average age of triathletes increasing there would no shortage of interest from those who, for whatever reason, “can’t run anymore”. But it was hard to interest triathlon event organisers in the concept. A typical response would be “if people really want to just swim/bike than can just pull out at the end of the bike”. Technically correct but the whole point in racing is not to compete against the clock but to compete against others.

“Then in 2016 there was an alignment of the stars. At the international level it was announced an inaugural swim/bike world championship would be added to the calendar. At the local level, my wife and I would both be reaching our 80th birthdays so what better way to give something back for all the enjoyment we have had from triathlons over the years (including more than two decades of competing at international events) than to support this new initiative.

“The results of that event, held in Canada in August 2017, exceeded my wildest dreams. Our modest team of 36 brought home nine medals (five gold, three silver and one bronze) possibly the biggest medal haul ever achieved in a single event on a single day by any New Zealand team in any World Championship. And another eight achieved top 10 finishes.

“With success like that it was a no brainer not to repeat the sponsorship for another year. This will encourage more athletes to make the trip to Denmark, the 2018 venue, and secure top 10, if not podium finishes, for them and for New Zealand. And who knows, if I can recover from my third hip breaking cycle accident in time I might be at the start line too!”

The Aquabike National Championships on 17 January 2018 will feature a 3km swim and 120km bike on the Challenge Wanaka course and will run concurrently with the established long distance triathlon that attracts over 1,600 competitors each year. For further information, visit the AquaBike event page.

Garth