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Henderson gears up for eighteenth Ironman NZ

Wednesday 22 February 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Sports, Triathlon


Henderson gears up for eighteenth Ironman NZ
Kevin Henderson will be competing in the Ironman New Zealand event for the 18th time next month. 23022107

Kevin Henderson is gearing up for his 18th Ironman New Zealand in Taupō, Aotearoa next weekend, an extraordinary achievement for the 67-year-old triathlete from Matavera, Rarotonga.

The world’s second longest-running Ironman New Zealand in Taupō, will see father and son athletes Kevin and Thomas Henderson compete in the extreme event on March 04.

Henderson says he will be doing Ironmans for as long as he can.

“I have no alternatives, quite frankly I like triathlons, but they won’t let me do triathlons over here (Rarotonga).

“I did make that pact with myself, that as long as I can’t do triathlons here, I’m going to be doing Ironman.”

The Hendersons will be up against top triathletes racing in the 3.8km swim in the clear, fresh waters of Lake Taupō, the two-lap cycle 180km course which takes riders into the rural landscape surrounding Taupō and the Hoka run course which is a four-lap 42.2km course leading athletes through town four times.

Henderson said the most challenging leg all depends on the weather.

“The run is always the most challenging, once you know you’re on the run you know you can finish because you’re on land now and everything’s right, where as on the bike its long and daunting and a mechanical problem can stop you, so as long as you get through the bike you know the finish is there.” 

His son Thomas, a former Cook Islands triathlon national representative will be competing in the Ironman event for the first time.

“I’ve been looking forward to it, it’s kind of keeping me going, my plan was to have done 20 (Ironman’s) by the time I get to 70 but it’s getting costly...” he said.

Henderson said training for the Ironman is usually specifically 12 weeks but he has been training for 18, adding on other things like the Round Raro Race.

The hardest part of training is usually the last six or so weeks when you’re up to the five to six-hour bike rides to two to three hour runs once a week, he said.

“At least for swim training its good, we’ve probably got the best swim training in the world out there.”

Looking forward to finishing the Ironman he will be competing in the 65-69 age group and says on the day, it depends on who turns up for the race in terms of the age group side of it.

Participating in the race with his son is pretty special, “it’ll be nice to finish together but I don’t want to be holding Thomas back,” said Henderson.

A dream of Henderson’s is to compete in the Coast to Coast iconic multisport event based in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand from 9 to 10 February next year.

The Hendersons have applied to enter this race individually or as a tandem team and are waiting for confirmation.