O’Brien dreams ofapodium fin­ish


It will take more than get­ting lost in the bush to put Su­san O’Brien off.

The John­sonville triath­lete has qual­i­fied for the 2017 ITU Long Dis­tance Triathlon World Cham­pi­onships in Pen­tic­ton, Canada, and is train­ing hard in prepa­ra­tion for the race’s 3 kilo­me­tre swim, 120km bike and 30km run.

In May 2015, O’Brien sur­vived 24 hours lost in the bush fol­low­ing a race through the Rimu­taka For­est Park.

The mother-of-two kept her­self alive by drink­ing her own breast milk and cov­er­ing her­self with soil to keep warm.

It was a dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ence but made her a more de­ter­mined ath­lete, she says.

‘‘That was just a life-changing event for me. It made me re­alise what’s im­por­tant in life.’’

She says she had al­ready achieved a lot be­fore her ‘‘bush ex­pe­ri­ence’’ and she wasn’t go­ing to give up.

‘‘I’ve seen progress over time and over­come so many fears along the way ... that event def­i­nitely didn’t scare me, it’s just made me more of a stronger per­son.’’

She was an ac­tive child and has over­come an eat­ing disor­der on her way to be­com­ing a long dis­tance ath­lete.

‘‘Run­ning was my out­let to re­ally let go of all those fears and have noth­ing on my mind and do what I love to do.

‘‘So then I turned to triathlon. It’s one of those things that con­di­tions my heart, soul and mind. It makes me a strong per­son, bet­ter in­side out.

‘‘I know triathlon looks like a self­ish sport on the out­side but it’s made me a bet­ter per­son and I guess that’s what drives me.’’

She com­peted in the same event at last year’s cham­pi­onships in Ok­la­homa, fin­ish­ing eighth, only three months af­ter break­ing her ribs.

O’Brien says she knows there is room for im­prove­ment and she’s feel­ing good about ful­fill­ing her dream of be­ing on the podium.

She only re­cently dis­cov­ered race wheels, which she says can shave 3 to 4 kilo­me­tres off each hour – and hopes to get a new bike as the one she is us­ing is too big for her.

She trains ev­ery day, even with the un­pre­dictabil­ity of Welling­ton weather. ‘‘I’m ab­so­lutely in love with Welling­ton – the wind, the cold. I look at it as train­ing vari­ables and the wind is awe­some.’’

Peo­ple of­ten ask her why she does it.

‘‘I breathe it now,’’ she says. ‘‘You’re al­ways push­ing past your limits and chal­leng­ing your­self and I find that re­ally re­ward­ing – I love feel­ing that pain in my body.’’


Su­san O’Brien has qual­i­fied for the ITU Long Dis­tance Triathlon World Cham­pi­onships.


O’Brien was found safe and well af­ter spend­ing a night in the Rimu­taka For­est Park af­ter get­ting lost trail run­ning.

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