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.