Waitara offers a taste of Ironmaori

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 08:14 30/01/2013
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ROBERT CHARLES
Sport Taranaki CEO Howie Tamati, past competitor Alf Robson, and Sport Taranaki's Leanne Horo are gearing up for the ironmaori taster in Waitara.

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When Waitara's Alf Robson first thought about taking part in the "Ironmaori" event last year there were a lot of excuses.

Ironmaori is staged over half- ironman distances, two-kilometre swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run, and is designed to encourage Maori to live a healthier lifestyle.

Sport Taranaki has organised a taster event to be held in Waitara in April.

Mr Robson, 46, said he had been keen to do the cycling leg as part of a team and was trying to talk his younger brother into doing the swim, but there were a lot of reasons not to attempt the gruelling event.

"I had started cycling but I was certainly not breaking any speed records."

However, after watching a programme showing previous competitors in the event, some of whom were extremely overweight, his mind was made up.

"By the end of the documentary there were no excuses left," Mr Robson said.

He took part and completed the 90km in the 2012 event.

"It was inspirational; all of the competitors were supporting each other and encouraging each other.

"You get to the point where you want to flag it and [are] thinking about getting off the bike, and someone would say 'You can't give up now'; it was just the little bit of juice that you needed to pick you up."

Mr Robson, who was cycling up to 100km a week in training, said he was overwhelmed by a mix of euphoria and emotions when he crossed the line.

"Mate, it was like winning an Olympic gold medal."

He now wants to do the entire event solo.

"I jumped in the pool the other morning and I couldn't swim two metres but I couldn't bike two metres two years ago."

Ironmaori was the brainchild of Heather Skipworth and Missy Mackey and was first run in 2009.

The Waitara event, to be held on April 6, will not be run over the half-ironman distances. It will involve a 300m swim, 10km cycle and 2.5km walk or run, or competitors can double it up for more of a challenge.

A shorter event will be held for children aged 7 to 12 on Friday, April 5.

Sport Taranaki chief executive Howie Tamati said it was a real coup to be able to hold the event.

"This is not an elite event; it is all about changing your lifestyle," Mr Tamati said.

It was not aimed at hardcore athletes but at getting ordinary people engaged in exercise.

"Getting them off the couch in a way that has been proven to be really beneficial and successful to people.

"They can compete as an individual, they can compete as a team or they can compete as an iwi or whanau."

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Mr Tamati said the event was open to anybody, not just Maori, but urged people to register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

To register for the event go to the Ironmaori Facebook site.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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