Andrew’s will cast in iron
Twelve months ago, a 39-year-old Matamata farmer relied on a zimmer frame to move.
On Saturday, he will compete in the Kelloggs-Nutri Grain Ironman New Zealand event.
talked to Andrew Kennedy about his journey from being a broken man to an iron man.
Andrew Kennedy got the shock of his life when doctors told him his body had started to deteriorate.
In just a couple of years, the self-confessed fitness enthusiast had both knees reconstructed from chronic dislocation syndrome, deep vein thrombosis, multiple herniated discs in his back, sciatica and palsy of the long thoracic nerve.
Quite simply, Andrew’s body started to get tired from the effects of years of hard physical work on the farm.
‘‘I woke up one morning and couldn’t feel my right arm, it was completely paralysed,’’ Andrew said. ‘‘It certainly freaked me out!’’
Life was pretty tough for Andrew. The pain had become so intense in his leg and foot that he could no longer stand up and had to use a zimmer frame to get around. ‘‘I was living on painkillers. Only those closest to me knew how bad I was actually feeling,’’ he said.
‘‘You find yourself wondering whether it’s going to get any better.’’
At times there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel, but Andrew held on to the hope that one day he would compete in the Kelloggs-Nutri Grain Ironman New Zealand event.
This Saturday, his dream will come true when he lines up for the 30th Ironman race.
‘‘This is something I’ve wanted to do for years,’’ he said.
He has drawn inspiration from a number of places including a group of about 14 men with farming backgrounds from around the Matamata area who enter triathlons and other multi-sport events.
‘‘With these guys around, you have no choice but to keep going,’’ Andrew said.
‘‘They have all been so supportive, I can’t thank them enough. Our sponsors Pearson Engineering and PGG Wrightsons have been great as well.’’
Andrew’s rehabilitation has been long with regular visits to the physiotherapist, but he credits getting fit to enter Ironman as a driving force behind why he has recovered so well.
‘‘I’ll probably have to deal with a couple of ongoing issues for the rest of my life, but I feel better than ever.’’
At this stage, Andrew’s goal is just to finish the Ironman event.
‘‘I’m quite a competitive person so if I don’t finish in the time I set myself, I might have to go back and have another crack,’’ he quipped.
In preparation, Andrew has been training for at least five hours a day .
As a former swimming and water polo champion, Andrew hopes to do well in the swimming leg of the race.
He has put a lot of effort into cycling and running and tries to swim at least three times a week.
‘‘If I didn’t have a strong swimming background, I probably wouldn’t have considered entering,’’ he said.
Andrew sold his farm and is working on another while he decides what the next step is.
He’s also ticked off a few things on his bucket list, including riding a horse from one side of the South Island to the other and doing some training to become a stock judge. ‘‘It [farming] can be pretty relentless, but I have no regrets when it comes to farming,’’ he said.
Personal events during last year including the recent death of a close family member made Andrew realise life is to be lived.
‘‘You really do only get one chance, so I intend to live my life to the fullest,’’ he said.
‘‘I refuse to let my body break before I’m ready.’’
Determined: Matamata man Andrew Kennedy is competing in this Saturday’s Kelloggs-Nutri Grain Ironman New Zealand event.