Iron Maori by Kiwa Huata

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As I ponder on life and lifes achievements I wonder, wouldnt it be fantastic yet compete in a half triathlon?

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 5.49.09 pmId never call myself an athlete or one to even think twice about running anything further than 15km. Prior to Iron Maori I had never rode a bike on the road, swam more than 1km and ran more than 5km without stopping. So the thought of entering the Iron Maori had never occurred to me until 2 days prior to the event on the 1st December 2013. I was asked by my mother to take her place in the full Iron Maori- I accepted without a second thought. Shocked as she was I thought Whats the big deal? Its just a few hours of swimming, cycling and running. Doesnt sound too hard. Of course, I figured out the big deal very soon in to the race.

Regardless of what this piece says, there a very few words to describe my feelings relating to my experience.

Ever wondered what its like doggy paddling while being flopped in the head by other participants as they gracefully swim past- and youve just consumed a litre of salt water?

Well heres a tip for those that have felt my pain.

NEXT TIME YOU DECIDE TO ENTER IN A HALF TRIATHLON, TRAIN! DONT LEAVE IT TO THE LAST MINUTE!

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 5.48.47 pmI had not swam, ran or cycled (or even walked in to a gym) in over 2 years and I had the audacity to think this would be a synch. It took my father 18 months to train for this big day, my Uncle 1 year, my cousins 8 months- me? 1 day.

Needless to say I came last- well last equal with a dear friend Lomi. Id never thought Id come last, regardless of the circumstances. I mean, there were participants who were way over three times my age- AND THEY STILL CYCLED RIGHT PAST ME EVER SO ELEGENTLY. What does that say about my fitness? Not much but a lesson well learnt and I dare not take advantage of the next opportunity that comes my way.

I would like to thank Huia Huata and Donna Awatere Huata for encouraging the rest of the whanau to participate. Both completed the 2012 Iron Maori and have since completed many other marathons since then. Today, we have uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces training for the 2014 Iron Maori- all thanks to the motivation of these women. GO THE HUATAS! And everybody else.

Here are a number of things Id recommend if you, the reader, decide to participate;

  1. Train. Even if its a few kilometres a day. Nothing is more irritating when your legs give way during the run because you decided to stop off at Burger King rather than run that 2km you promised you would do.
  2. Whatever you do, dont stop! Thats when the cramps kick in, and it only puts more pressure on your body
  3. Learn to ride a bike on the road many months prior to the event. I couldnt count the number of times I almost got run over by other cyclist and vehicles
  4. Go at your own pace. It took me almost 12 hours to complete a 2km swim, 90km cycle, 21km run. I could have reduced this time dramatically if I had went at my own pace and not competed against family members (HAHA)
  5. Enter under your own name. Nothing is more hilarious when youre walking through the finish line and they call out your mothers name (as I ran under hers), then ask through the mic Hey whats your real name? SNAPPED!
  6. Dont cheat. No one is going to tell you off for cheating however; in all seriousness you really are only cheating yourself. In saying that, there were multiple times when the temptation became so over-whelming, paranoia ate away at my confidence, pride and motivation. Plus, no one likes a cheat
  7. Enjoy yourself. I can truthfully say I have never felt such agony in my feet whilst smiling before. Every corner Id see people cheering participants on, providing lollies and drinks and always with a smile.
  8. Also remember, you have to finish eventually so keep moving.

The organisers were kind enough to wait until myself and Lomi past that finish line. We were welcomed with a haka from both our whanau and I couldnt have felt more proud to have completed such an atrocious yet breathtaking challenge.

I congratulate each individual of all ages for their well deserved achievement. Its a wonderful feeling seeing other Maori who have dealt with obesity, diabetes, and other medical issues over the many years cross that finish line. It is an event no one could ever forget whether you were a participant or a supporter. The organisers made it out to be an enjoyable event for all people, of all age and size.

I encourage each and every one of you to give it a go, even if its just the run, the swim or the cycle- or if youre as harty as me- the whole thing. Put it on your bucket list if you have to. It may not be this year or next but if we are to become a healthier iwi, its safe to say Iron Maori can help us get there.

Nga mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa,

Tuurou Hawaiki

Kiwa Huata

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