Turia Pitt: A Burn Survivor’s Journey to Kona

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After I was trapped in a grassfire whilst competing in a 100km ultra marathon over 5 years ago, I had to rebuild my whole life. Learning how to walk, talk, eat and dress myself again were all major achievements.

I’d always loved running and being super active. My self-esteem was wrapped up with what my body could do, so it was pretty rough to deal with. I remember the doctors told me I’d never run again, and I remember thinking “Oh yeah? I’ll show you – I’m gonna do an IRONMAN one day. I didn’t even know what an Ironman entailed, but I knew it was this incredible physical and mental challenge, and if I could do it, I could prove to myself that I was fitter, faster and stronger than before the fire.

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Every day my Mum and my partner Michael would come into the hospital and get me out of bed saying “come on Turia, time for your IRONMAN training”. Even if it was a short walk down the corridor or taking on a few stairs, it was always a step closer to that big goal. Throughout my recovery, I’ve stayed focused on that goal. Initially of course I had to get back to a base level of fitness, starting with longer walks and rides.

Initially I could only run 10 meters. Then 20 meters. And then 100 meters. Over several months I built up to around 400 meters and it was a bit of a turning point in my recovery. I remember thinking ‘if I can run again, what else can I do that they told me I couldn’t?” I felt like the rest of my world started opening up again.

Eventually those runs turned into half-marathons and in 2014, I decided it was time to start training specifically for IRONMAN. After finishing my first IRONMAN in Port Macquarie, Australia in May I was just filled with absolute elation. I remember just feeling so thrilled and really grateful to be able to prove to myself that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

When I found out I’d been invited to compete at IRONMAN Kona, I felt equal parts totally pumped and completely terrified! It’s going to be a massively hectic challenge, but I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to give it my best shot.