A late offer of a free entry got Mark Wales to the start line in the New Plymouth half ironman on Saturday.
The challenge was accepted only a few days before the event.
By Saturday morning, the 30-year-old teacher at New Plymouth's Francis Douglas Memorial College was wondering just what he had got himself into.
"A guy from Auckland was training for the event but didn't recover after another ironman event and pulled out. He was friends with one of my friends and I heard there was a free entry up for grabs," Wales said.
"I was really lucky [event organiser] Selwyn [Brown] transferred it over to me.
"He was awesome.
"It's always been a goal of mine to do it, I just didn't think it would be so soon."
Wales, a former Taranaki cricketer, said he had been training hard over summer and was happy with his time of 5 hours 32 minutes.
"I did two of the round-the-mountain cycle rides, or halfway in each riding in a team. I did a few half marathons last year and I've been swimming two or three times a week," he said. "This was just a bit last minute. I hadn't planned on racing. But I had three days' notice when I got the all-clear to race and thought I'd give it a crack. I felt awesome after the swim and bike. It was the last lap of the run that really hurt."
However, that pain had disappeared yesterday.
"The body's feeling good now," he said while watching the school's first XI cricket side in a Twenty20 match against St Patrick's College, Silverstream.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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