Oamaru multisport ace Dougal Allan is preparing to step into a furnace.
The professional athlete is trading the bitter North Otago autumn for the boiling Asian spring next week.
He has been invited to race in the Challenge Taiwan iron-distance triathlon for the first time following the successful defence of his Challenge Wanaka title.
“I’d heard a bit about it. It’s caught my attention before,” Allan said.
“I chose it for a couple of reasons. It didn’t look like it was going to be a super-competitive race, but that’s sort of backfired because it has a strong field now.
“And after winning Challenge Wanaka, it’s opened up a bit more support through the Challenge franchise.”
Allan has heard last year’s Challenge Taiwan winner, Fredrik Croneborg, will be back to defend his title.
There is also talk of German world champion Jan Fredono – “Pretty much the best triathlete in history” – attending, although he may only compete in the half-distance race.
Allan has raced in Asia dozens of times and knows the heat will be a major factor in his performance, especially on the marathon run stage.
“That will be my biggest competitor,” he said.
“It’s not too new to me, the heat adjustment thing, but you need to give it some respect as far as race strategy goes.
“With these Asian events, you tend to be running through a bit of a concrete jungle, so you get that rebound effect of the heat off the road. It’s pretty unrelenting.”
Challenge Wanaka is Allan’s No1 priority every year and he aims to be at peak condition for that race.
Since defending his title in February, he has had a decent recovery period but has quickly got back into the groove of training, and feels he is in fairly good nick before the trip to Taiwan.
He, wife Amy and two children will base themselves in Noosa for the winter.
In July, Allan will break more new ground when he competes in the Challenge franchise’s flagship event, Challenge Roth, in Germany.
He has spoken to former Oamaru Mail reporter Marjorie Cook, who took part in Challenge Roth a few years ago.
“She’s told me that whatever you expect from it, you can triple it. It’s quite huge.
“The town itself is not a lot bigger than Oamaru but it gets about 250,000 spectators, which is just unbelievable.”
Allan has also been busy working on a new project.
He has started a subscription-based “Endurance Editorial” via his website (www.dougalallan.com) for people who want an in-depth look at what makes a champion triathlete.
“People have said they quite enjoy my racing blogs, and that’s not just my mum and dad.
“I’m getting quite a unique experience as a professional athlete. I’ve got a background in sports science, and I seem to be able to string a few words together.”