Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic: Tim Marsden
Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic: Tim Marsden

Eight-hour triathlon for 80th birthday goal

FOR most people, when they decide to try something different, it doesn't involved eight hours of pushing the body to its limits.

But for Alf Lakin, he could think of no better way to celebrate turning 80 in September.

The Runaway Bay grandfather is the patron of the sixth annual Tweed Coast Enduro set to return to Pottsville on March 7.

Five years ago, Alf decided it was time to try something new and picked up competing in triathlons.

 

Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic: Tim Marsden
Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic: Tim Marsden

 

The most astonishing part was at 75, Alf had to learn how to swim to compete.

Now, four world championships for his age group later, Alf is ready to take on his biggest triathlon yet.

"I've always been active," he said.

"I do masters athletics and I've run seven marathons across the years - the last one in the 80s," he said.

"When I started I hadn't been on a bike for 65 years but I came from a running background and I found that the easiest."

The former middle distance runner spends about 10 hours a week training.

"I realise I am nearly 80 so I'm not silly and don't go out and thrash my body every day," Alf said.

"I have a few mentors who are helping me prepare mentally - the body and mind all have to come together on the day. Provided my health stays good I am pretty confident."

He credited his wife Karen,, a masters 200m athlete in her own right, as being his biggest supporter.

 

Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic: Tim Marsden
Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic: Tim Marsden

 

"She thinks I'm mad but she is always there to support me," Alf said with a laugh.

"My whole outlook has been, providing your health is alright, there is no need to stop doing something, don't need to do triathlon or play rugby but you can go out and walk."

Alf's next aim is to head to Canada for the next world championships as he goes up an age group to the over 80 year olds.

The Tweed enduro's organisers are expecting competition to be fierce in the Men's Open category, as eight-time Ironman Champion Luke McKenzie, 2012 Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs has registered, as well as Ironman 70.3 Champion Lindsey Lawry.

The event will also hold a ITU Age Group World Qualifier for the Long Course as part of their program for those with their sights set on Almere, Amsterdam, in September.

A new event category will debut this year - the Aquabike - that includes a 1.9km swim and 90km ride, skipping the run.

 

Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic Tim Marsden
Alf Larkin, 79, preparing for the Pottsville Triathlon. Pic Tim Marsden

 

The category will host the Triathlon Queensland Championships for the Aquabike.

Event manager Kevin Pready said Pottsville was fast becoming well known as a great triathlon location due to its supportive community and athlete friendly course.

With more than 600 athletes now entered, many athletes and their families will be staying locally and accommodation centres are quickly filling up.

Racing starts in Mooball Creek on an outgoing tide from Buckingham Street beach with a 1.9km swim.

The 90km cycle leg then starts near the Tweed Holiday Park: Pottsville South and heads along Tweed Coast Road towards Wooyung and the wooden railway bridge. The cycle is expected to be tough again this year, with riders likely to battle head winds and the heat.

The final leg is the half marathon 21.1km run, which follows Overall Drive, the creek bank and Blackrocks fields.

There is also a shorter "Sprint" distance for those looking to do their first triathlon locally..



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