KONA DREAMS

TRAVIS MCKEN­ZIE

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY CLAIRE DUN­CAN

Ayear ago, Travis Mcken­zie was train­ing for Iron­man Texas un­til he was hit by a car and ended up in hos­pi­tal. Told by doc­tors he may never walk again, the 32-year-old was crushed, but de­ter­mined to one day get back to the sport he loves. He more than suc­ceeded. On May 15 this year he crossed the fin­ish line at Iron­man Texas in a re­mark­able 9:04:53.

Mcken­zie grew up on Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast watch­ing the world’s best triath­letes come to his home re­gion to train. At age 10, he raced down the fin­ish­ing chute of Iron­man Hawaii with his fa­ther. He’s been ob­sessed with the sport ever since.

Mcken­zie now lives in Van­cou­ver where he’s turned his love for the sport into a full­time ca­reer. Along with Chal­lenge Pen­tic­ton race di­rec­tor Michael Brown, he’s work­ing to bring more world-class, unique triathlons to Canada through their new com­pany NTSQ Sports.

“I want to help cre­ate new ex­pe­ri­ences for triath­letes in Canada,” he ex­plains. “I’m su­per pas­sion­ate about this sport so it’s cool to be able to be in the triathlon world for a liv­ing now.”

It was March of 2015 when he was out train­ing that he col­lided with a car com­ing at him head-on.

“Even af­ter I left the hos­pi­tal, I was in a neck brace for three months and had very lim­ited move­ment,” he says. “Even­tu­ally I started us­ing wa­ter run­ning for re­hab, but that was the ex­tent of my phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.”

He’d head to the pool where his swim group was train­ing and watch their prac­tices as he worked to re­gain mo­bil­ity.

“That ex­pe­ri­ence helped so­lidif y how t r iat hlon is a ll about com­mu­nity a nd the re­la­tion­ships you form through it,” Mcken­zie says. “All I wanted was to race again. I felt like an out­sider. But the group was so en­cour­ag­ing. They made me feel like I was still in­volved.”

With pa­tient and dili­gent re­hab, Mcken­zie started walk­ing again and even started get­ting back in shape. Soon he felt like him­self again.

“In 2014, I had qual­i­fied for Kona at Iron­man Texas. I de­cided I would try to qual­ify again at Iron­man Texas in 2016. I knew it was a lofty dream, but I used it as mo­ti­va­tion dur­ing those tough months.”

Mcken­zie used this year’s Iron­man 70.3 Texas as a warm-up race.

“I felt like a rookie. I made a ton of mis­takes with nu­tri­tion and pac­ing and I slogged through the run, but it was amaz­ing just to be out there again,” he says. “That race was a cel­e­bra­tion of how far I’ve come.”

Though his body still doesn’t move as well as he’s used to, Mcken­zie hasn’t ruled out Kona for the near fu­ture. “I fully in­tend to get there again. Even if it doesn’t hap­pen on the first try, I’m go­ing to treat it all as a cel­e­bra­tion of how far I’ve come.”

Mcken­zie may not have qual­i­fied in Texas, but he’ll keep try­ing un­til he gets it. He now knows how im­por­tant it is to face chal­lenges head-on with op­ti­mism.

“I know a lot of peo­ple can re­late to this,” he says. “We’re all go­ing to en­counter ad­ver­sity in life. But I hope my story re­minds some­one out there to keep fight­ing and never give up.”

Claire Dun­can is the TMC web ed­i­tor.

Travis Mcken­zie rac­ing Iron­man Texas

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