Ironman heads to Hawaii

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WINTON Ironman Pete Wilkinson is heading to Hawaii to compete in the sport’s pinnacle event at Kona on October 13.

Wilkinson is Assistant Principal at Menzies College in Wyndham, while wife Kelly teaches at Central Southland College in Winton.

“This is my first time travelling anywhere further than Australia or Rarotonga, so we are using as much of the school holidays as possible. We leave this Saturday and we will take a few days off at the start of term four as well.”

Wilkinson has long been a keen endurance athlete. completed many Kepler Challenges, Luxmore Grunts, marathons, half marathons, and a multitude of other events.

His first multisport event was the Coast to Coast in 2000. have now done four; my brother Shane also started doing them after initially being the support crew for me.

“Shane then got into Ironman, but the trigger for me to enter my first one was when my father passed away. I really wanted him to see me do an Ironman but we never got the chance.

“After my first one in 2009 I wasn’t planning to do another, but three years later I started training with the goal to qualify for Kona. It has taken seven years and nine more attempts to achieve this goal.”

Wilkinson qualified for these World Champs by finishing 9th in his age group at Ironman Cairns in June.

At Ironman New Zealand in March this year, he finished in less than 10 hours but missed out on qualification by one spot. His coach Pete Lever, of Endurance Collab, encouraged him to enter for Cairns.

“It was a great idea as I nailed another personal best by about 11 minutes, going 9 hours 44, for the 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and marathon 42.2km run. The key in this race was self-belief and finally pushing myself to my absolute limit without fear of ‘blowing up’.

Every ironman has qualifying spots for age group athletes. At Cairns Wilkinson’s 45-49 age group had more than 200 athletes but also had the most qualifying spots – 12.

His strongest discipline is the run, really swim at all before doing my first ironman and my biking was average. Generally you can get away with an average swim time, but if you don’t cycle and run strong then it makes it difficult.

Wilkinson is probably better known in Southland sporting circles as a rugby referee. in 2001 because I was no good at playing and wanted to be involved in the game.

He refereed at National B level for five years, while other highlights were refereeing Southland v Otago and Southland v Tasman in preseason games. refereeing Midlands v Star in a Galbraith Shield final in 2009, although being from Winton I still get a ribbing for Midlands not winning – I still reckon the ball was held up in goal, but try telling the Midlands supporters that!

For the past three years he had to pull back from rugby to commit to daily ironman training. make myself available when the referees association is short; I generally get called in for half a dozen games each year.

Refereeing more than 100 senior club games is an achievement he is very proud of.

No matter the result or how the race goes in Hawaii, Wilkinson will definitely be carrying on with multisport. I am still improving. I have entered Taupo half ironman in March with an eye towards qualification for the half ironman world champs.

“There are always goals; I don’t train very well when I haven’t got a goal in mind. And without training I get lazy. Training is my happy place.

“I have the most supportive partner, I have no idea how Kelly has put up with me getting up at ‘stupid o’clock’ most days for years to go train. She is my number one supporter, but there are heaps of people encouraging me to keep chasing the dream. The numbers of times that I’ve had people stop me when I’m out running to wish me luck for Kona is flattering. I will do my best to represent my family, friends, and community with pride.”

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