While it is often the elite athletes making headlines at endurance events, those events are also an opportunity for every day people to push themselves and test their own limits. A Rotorua group of athletes will do just that at Ironman New Zealand this weekend.
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Rotorua fitness group Jogging the Powerpoles is on a mission this weekend - to prove anything is possible.
Nine members of the group have signed up to take on their first Ironman in Taupō today, comprising a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run.
They will be among the 2500 Nutri-Grain Ironman competitors who will be putting their many months of hard work and dedication into action, as many thousands more supporters cheer them on and more than 2000 volunteers help them along the way.
Jogging the Powerpoles coach Kerris Browne - a talented multisport athlete herself - said the group came from all walks of life and all had their own inspiring stories.
"I'm more than happy with their progress. Some of them, in their own heads, still think they can't do it, but as a coach I know they can do it.
"The biggest message I give them is to just relax and aim for the next aid station. You can't look at the end goal and think 'how am I ever going to get there?'. You just take it one aid station at a time, on the swim you just aim to get to the next buoy.
"All these people have the ability but they don't think they do. That's three-quarters of my job is working on the head, the body is secondary. Planting that seed and watering it and letting them know it's a goal they can achieve."
One of the first timers, Marie Heaphy, said she had not been in a good place mentally but since signing up for the Ironman she had more purpose.
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"I was in a bit of a funk through winter and I thought I needed something big to get me out - this was it. The training has been great, being in a group and having something regular. Everyone's really supportive.
"I was going great but I got crook which interrupted training a bit. For me now, it's about getting to the start line and seeing how far I can go. At the very least, it will be good practice for next year."
"I'm doing it for myself. I reckon when I'm healthy in body and mind, I'm a better husband, father and friend."
Jonathan Forrester has had to balance his training with being a dad to his two daughters aged 8 and 11. Their mum, his wife, is in Japan where she has had a cancer scare.
"My wife had the health scare so she's been in Japan since mid-September and I've come back and been a temporary solo dad. She's due back the week after Ironman so she'll be following me on the app.
"It has made training very hard, I've improvised a lot of it and had to skip some of it, as well as working fulltime. It's been a good distraction, good to get out and keep on going. To finish will feel amazing, it will be worth it just to know I can do it. It's a goal I never knew I had.
"I'm doing it for myself. I reckon when I'm healthy in body and mind, I'm a better husband, father and friend. It's a good example for my girls, my 11-year-old has joined Jogging the Powerpoles now too."
Sharon Nikora started exercising in an effort to improve her health.
"For myself, it was two years in the making - volunteering at Ironman and being surrounded by a lot of people who have now become my mentors. It grew from there," Nikora says.
"I'm able to do it, so I want to do it. I'm a real novice to all of it, probably since 2016 I've been getting into physical activity for personal reasons, mainly associated with health. I think the nerves are a given but I'm just making sure I do everything I possibly can to get to the start line and to the finish line."
Ironman New Zealand will be in Taupō on Saturday with the first wave of athletes setting off at 7.48am. The event includes 40 qualifying slots for the 2020 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
Race director Wayne Reardon says it is hugely rewarding for him to see people's achievements play out after months of planning.
"It doesn't matter how many times you experience it, the finish line throughout the day but especially the final few hours never fails to inspire as you watch people of all ages, all backgrounds and all walks of life get to the red carpet and experience that welcome home and hear Mike Reilly's cry of 'you are an Ironman'," Reardon says.
"We will celebrate and welcome our winners of course, and marvel in their achievements but Ironman is so much more than that, it is just an amazing display of people coming together with the same goal and inspiring others in the process."
Jogging the Powerpoles members doing their first Ironman this weekend:
Jonathan Forrester, Claudia Shulz, Joe Nathan, Sonia Te Whare, Sharon Nikora, Crishla Coxhead, Marie Heaphy, Saresa Luscombe, Cindy Carpenter.