19-year old Waitohu Ngarewa is well into her training for the Ironman World Championships, which will be held at Kona, Hawaii in October this year. She is part of the Taranaki Toa training group and qualified for the World Championships after winning the female 18-24 age group at Ironman New Zealand in Taupo earlier this year.
Taranaki Toa is a growing triathlon community of like-minded people in the Taranaki region. The group has opened up huge opportunities for not only Ngarewa, but for a whole range of people. She said they train in a positive environment, filled with laughter and quality people.
"Taranaki Toa caters to athletes of all abilities. We have all been offered multiple opportunities to meet professional triathletes of all distances and specialists of each separate sport to help us get a better understanding. I have since found my coach Blair Cox who works closely with Taranaki Toa."
Kona wasn't even on Ngarewa's radar leading into her Ironman NZ race, so to get the qualification mark was a complete shock.
"My coach told me that I would be able to finish between 11-12 hours and he knew me well because I finished in 11 hours, 13 minutes and 54 seconds. The whole concept of doing an Ironman can be daunting, so for myself who had a lot to learn, I just had to break everything down to its simplest form. People told me to wait until I was older to do an Ironman, but I'm glad I did it when I did."
When Ngarewa was 16, she set a few goals. One of those goals being that she wanted to complete an Ironman before she turned 21. She ticked that goal off in Taupo, and what was even better was that she completed the race alongside her parents.
"It's amazing how much your body is capable of. Completing the New Zealand Ironman beside my parents and Taranaki Toa was a real highlight of the Taupo race. I was also astounded by the support. I was totally unaware of how many people were on this journey with me and it made all the dark training days' worth it."
Ngarewa's hoping to have her mum, Tracey Bourke supporting her on in Kona later on this year.
A Givealittle page has been set up to help Ngarewa fundraise for her trip to Kona -