Ashburton butcher and triathlete Mike Hanson achieved his ultimate sporting goal this month when he competed in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii – the birthplace of Ironman.
Mike, 51, qualified for the race in 2020 but covid restrictions postponed the event.
Around 5000 competitors converged on to the little Hawaiian town and Mike, who was competing in the 50-54 years age group, said he knew he was up against a lot of the world’s best able to complete the race in under nine hours, ‘‘so I was just out there to race myself as many others were,’’ he said.
Mike completed the 3.8km swim in one hour and 19 minutes in 27 degree water.
The 180km bike course is legendary in the Ironman world because of the heat and winds and Mike said the heat was a challenging 30 plus degrees on the day.
‘‘The asphalt of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway radiates heat, as do the lava rock fields surrounding the highway on both sides. Add to that headwinds that were as high as 25km per hour, grabbing as much water and food at every aid station helped me through,’’ Mike said.
Although Mike battled extreme conditions he achieved one of his personal best times of six hours and one minute.
After the bike race Mike put on his running gear to take on the 42km course.
‘‘The temperature was hotter and my energy was slowly depleting but I kept going and passed many who were completely burnt out and walked their run,’’ he said.
He finished the run in four hours and 50 minutes.
Mike was cheered along to the finish line holding a NZ flag high.
One of the voices in the crowd was champion Ironman Mike Reilly shouting “Mike Hanson you are an Ironman!”
Mike said hearing that was ‘‘an exceptional accomplishment that puts you on such a natural high, you forget that your body is screaming pain.’’
Mike completed the whole race 12:20:18 and was proud to don a finishers shirt, the heavy medal and a Hawaiian necklace.
‘‘I’m so proud of my achievement, I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends including my training buddies.’’
Mike has one more Ironman race to complete in Taupo and then plans on competing in the two day Coast to Coast as well as getting back to multi-sport and mountain biking.