Throughout life I have biked and run around many tracks and paths and formed a passion for Ironman. This has taken me many places in New Zealand and across the world. At 60 years young, I'm preparing to line up for my 5th Kona Ironman - my 25th Ironman.
Over the years, the sport has created connection to people and communities and a curiosity for the next race. Similarly, my journey to get here has been along paths. Some paths have been paved and smooth under foot. But the most rewarding times were those on the dirt track - the ones that were challenging, full of obstacles and unstable underfoot - but led to awesome results.
Growing up I had a knack to give any sport a go, but spent majority of my early life playing rugby and softball. In 2007, standing next to a triathlon transition watching my daughter race - I thought, “why not give it a crack”. A strong endurance cyclist by background, I had to learn to swim, and my run was 'elephant like' (heavy footed and slow). I ditched the cigarettes, but never quit my love of doughnuts and lined up for my first ironman in 2008.
In the early 2000s I was an endurance cyclist. I rode 4 laps around Lake Taupo - which is where I now live. This ‘dirt path’ taught me resilience and patience. The song “Crazy” became dialogue in my head as my mate and I rode each km into the hours of the night. It became clear that endurance sports is just as much a mental game as it is physical.
Every training can be just as challenging as the last, as I aim to get faster and do better than the previous day. Trainings are long - some days I still feel like an elephant, but others I’m in my happy space and feel on top of the world.
Between my partner and I, we have 5 children and 5 grandchildren. They all think I’m crazy. But to me, people remain at the core of why I love what I do. The sport wouldn’t be what it is without it’s supporters, organisers, and training buddies.
The biggest thing with the sport is to have fun and give it a go. The dirt path teaches us a lot. It’s just our choice if we want to explore them.
My go to GU products are the Original Gels - Expresso Love, Vanilla Bean, Mandarin Orange are my top 3 flavours and when I've overdone the Kona Coffee I opt for Lemon Sublime and Strawberry Banana (no caffeine options). I'm also chugging through the Hydration Tabs, they are keeping my cramp free!
Burkey (Mark Burke)