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After the fire nearly five years ago, I had to learn how to do everything again—everything from walking and talking to eating and dressing. I’d always been super active and my self-esteem was tied up with what my body could do, so that was pretty rough to deal with. When the doctor told me I would never run again, I remember thinking “Oh yeah? I’ll show you—I’m going to do an IRONMAN one day!”

The funny thing was, I didn’t fully understand what an IRONMAN entailed. All I knew was that it was an incredible physical and mental challenge, and if I could achieve it, I would prove to everyone especially myself that I was fitter, faster and stronger than before the fire.

Every day my Mum and my partner Michael would come into the hospital and get me out of bed saying “come on Turia, time for your IRONMAN training.” Even if it was a short walk down the corridor or taking on a few stairs, it was always a step closer to that big goal.

Throughout my recovery, I’ve stayed focused on that goal. Initially, of course, I had to get back to a base level of fitness—long walks and rides, half marathons, that kind of thing. In 2014, I decided it was time to start training specifically for IRONMAN, and I knew in early 2016 that I was ready to give it a red hot go.

After finishing IRONMAN Australia in May, my first IRONMAN, I was filled with absolute elation. I remember feeling so thrilled and really grateful I was able to prove to myself that I could achieve anything I set my mind to.

On top of that, the whole IRONMAN community was just so welcoming and supportive, with everyone cheering each other on. I love how it feels like you’re part of this big family—it’s something I’ll never forget.

The IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii is like the Holy Grail of triathlon—everyone you talk to says how gruelling and intense it is. When I found out I’d been invited to compete at Kona, I felt equal parts totally pumped and completely terrified! It’s going to be a massively hectic challenge, and I’m pretty nervous about the heat.

Because 65 percent of my body surface has been burned, it’s really hard for my skin to do its job in regulating my body temp. So, if anyone’s handy with DIY plumbing let me know! Thinking a little shower coming from my handlebars should do the trick, ha ha.

Seriously, though, it’s like a dream come true for me and I’m so humbled to have the chance to compete alongside so many IRONMAN champions—bring it on!

Turia xx

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