Talk about blowing SportToday away.
We knew Waipukurau's Sandra Kappely was going to be a story-and-a-half when we caught up with her this week. After all she will become the first Hawke's Bay Multisport Club female over 60 to tackle the New Zealand Ironman when she starts in Taupo on March 6.
What we didn't know was the gruelling Ironman -_ a 3.8-kilometre swim, 180-kilometre cycle and 42-kilometre run - was one of four major events the office manager for Brookers Furnishers aims to complete this year. A week after Taupo, Kappely and her training partner and mentor Sherry Majors, who will also be a first-time Ironman starter, will start in Triathlon New Zealand's Olympic Distance (1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre cycle and 10-kilometre run) national championship in Wellington. This is a selection event for the September world age-group triathlon championships in Budapest that Kappely hopes to start in. The other event she is eyeing is the annual Rotorua Marathon in May that she has already completed four times - twice as a runner and twice as a walker.
``Age is no barrier,'' said Kappely. ``As I look ahead to the Ironman 60 per cent of it is in the mind. Having to run a marathon after the cycle leg is the toughest thing to get my head around ... if I have to walk it I will but I've got the mindset to keep running.''
SportToday got the impression Kappely was a seasoned multisporter. But the mother of two sons (Brendon, 37, and Hayden, 32) only started doing triathlons in 2001.
``It was one of those Special K events - a 300-metre swim, 10-kilometre cycle and three-kilometre run,'' recalled Kappely.
She is an inspiration to anybody considering getting off the couch and giving multisport a crack.
``I spent 10 years on the couch from the time I was 40 and put on 30kg. Sport helped me lose weight and got me feeling good again,'' said the former ballet dancer who taught ballet until she was 35. Kappely made the decision to tackle the Ironman after completing the annual Hastings Marathon with a time of 5hrs 23m in August last year.
She will be one of eight female starters aged over 60.
Since 1997 22 women over 60 have started the Ironman and just four of them have failed to finish.
Asked if she had a target time Kappely was quick to reply.
``We're allowed 17 hours and I'll be happy to cross the finish line five minutes before the 17-hour mark.''
If her personal-bests over the three disciplines and commitment to training are an indication SportToday has no doubt she will more than achieve her goal. Kappely has clocked 1hr 35m for a 3.8-kilometre swim in the pool, 7hrs 30m for a 180-kilometre cycle and ``with a bit of luck'' she's confident of a six-hour marathon on race day.
``I know the course pretty well as I've done two half-ironmans in Taupo and one in Rotorua. Familiarity is a big advantage ... unlike when we were in Switzerland,'' said Kappely.
She was referring to when she and Majors competed in the 2006 World Triathlon Championships in Lausanne. Kappely finished 21st out of 27 starters in the 55-59 years grade then. ``We didn't have a clue about the course, which included rough cobblestone roads which made it pretty tough.
``I'm glad the Taupo swim is in a lake. I don't like the sea,'' said Kappely who required a lot of coaxing before entering the sea during the 2007 Triathlon New Zealand National Series race in Napier.
Her commitment to training would leave many professional sports people jealous. Kappely had just one glass of wine on her 60th birthday last month and has missed just two days of training in six months.
``I had one day off because I was tired and needed to freshen up and the other day I missed was Christmas Day ... We had too many visitors coming. When I reach the start line I want to be able to say to myself I could not have done anything more in
training. There should be no should-haves.
``I'm lucky I have no children at home and my hubby (Russell) is very supportive. He can find his own lunch when I'm out training,'' Kappely joked.
Her last 35-kilometre training ride was completed in torrential rain and her last 180-kilometre was done in thunderstorms.
``I'm a tough old tart.''
Indeed - but surely there must be some fears?
``The only scary part is that we're 22 days out and the nerves are starting to creep in ... But there's a lot more training between now and then,'' she added before joining Majors for another cycle.
Here's Sandra Kappely's training schedule for this week:
* Monday: Day off.
* Tuesday: 60km cycle and 2km swim.
* Wednesday: 15km run.
* Thursday: 2km swim and 60km cycle.
* Friday: 15km run.
* Saturday: 180km cycle and a 4km swim in Pandora Pond.
* Sunday: 35km run.
HBMC COMPETITORS
These Hawke's Bay Multisport Club members are competing: Jimmy Bowden (M35-39), Callum Campbell (M35-39), Ian Horsefield (M35-39), Earl Wykes (M35-39), Sarah Linehan (F35-39), Heather Skipworth (F35-39), Mark Lane (M40-44), Rhys Te Au (M40-44), Trudy Te Au (F40-44), Wayne Skipworth (M45-49), Bryan Dunphy (M50-54), Ross Franklin (M50-54), James Bell (M40-44), David Youngquest (M45-49), Bruce Lochhead (M50-54), John Moriarty (M55-59), Matthew Biss (M45-49), Bea Kirk (F25-29), Mike Foster (M40-44), Martin Hagmann (M40-44), Ken MacLaren (M45-49), Ali Hollington (F45-49), Grant Harding (M50-54), Chris Young (M50-54), Chris Pye (M40-44), Michael Mayo (M35-39), Sheridan Majors (F55-59), Sandra Kappely (F60-64), Mike Bond (M40-44), Karena Maze (F30-34).