Photo credit: Darryl Carey
Ironman New Zealand’s first winner and 1988 World Champion, Scott Molina, will participate in next week’s 30th anniversary event in Taupo.
Molina is one of eight originals from the first race in Auckland in 1985 who will take part in the commemorative event of the world’s oldest international Ironman race at Taupo on Saturday March 1.
He joins the select group for the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand that includes 69 year old Aucklander Mike Ramsay, who is the only person to have completed all 29 previous editions of Ironman New Zealand. The others comprise Waikato’s Don Jacobs, who was the first Kiwi home in third place in 1985, Jim Kerse (Dunedin), David Knowles (Auckland), Ray Litchwark (Rotorua), Bryce Edwards (Auckland) and Mike Hughes (Invercargill).
Molina, the American born New Zealander, is married to the great Erin Baker and has lived in Christchurch for many years. Known as the Terminator in his racing days, he was one of the most prolific triathletes, competing in more than 250 major races and winning more than 100.
He went on from winning the inaugural Ironman New Zealand to claim the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 1988.
Molina, who runs a busy and successful coaching business, said he had given Ironman racing away over the past decade after a series of leg injuries.
“I started thinking about this for two years ago and I thought that to do the race again at the 30th would be pretty neat,” Molina said.
“When I talked to the Ironman New Zealand organiser as this came closer I decided to take up the offer of the entry and I’ve done my very best to get to the start line in one piece and in halfway decent shape.
“It’s barely holding together but it will be fun to be part of this occasion. The curse as a former athlete is to learn to modify my expectations.
“Even at 54 years old I still struggle with the idea that I am not superman.”
He remains amazed at the development of ironman in the past three decades.
“When I won that first race in Auckland it was life-changing for me in terms of beginning to get an inkling that this sport was bigger than I thought and that I might be able to do well in it.
“But none of us had any idea it would get to this. New Zealand was only the second Ironman after Hawaii. Now there are more than 30 of them around the world, they sell out and most of them have a sizeable amount of people doing it for the first time.
“Ironman is growing like a weed. I look around and think what were these people doing before this? Where did they spring from?
“I am amazed and at the same time impressed because no matter who you are, competing in an Ironman is a big undertaking.”
Molina is looking forward to standing on the start line with old friends like Ken Glah and Jan Wanklyn, who won the race five times between them, and a number of other triathletes and friends that he has not seen for some time.
Organisers have planned a special luncheon, inviting all originals from the 1985 race, previous winners, members of the Hall of Fame and key people who have played a significant role in the development of the event.
Competitors in Taupo next weekend include the winners of 30 Ironman New Zealand titles, while guests include the winners on a further 16 occasions.
The 30th Anniversary race is a year of records including the final entry of 1750 competitors from a 57 countries, and including 934 New Zealanders and 573 first timers.
The race will be televised live from 6:40 a.m. (local time) on Saturday March 1 on www.ironman.com