Those who believe they do not have the time to take up the IRONMAN challenge should meet Roderick Whittle.
The teacher from Weipa in the farthest north of Queensland mixes a fulltime career, a house with nine children and some unique training obstacles to get to the start line at the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns on 8 June.
Preparing for a swim of 3.8km, a ride of 180km and a 42.2km marathon takes time and commitment that needs to be shoe-horned around family and work.
The Whittles live in Weipa, a small town 800km north of Cairns where he and wife Frances are parents to nine children.
Whittle is Head of Student Services at Western Cape College while his wife works fulltime in the mining industry “engaged in the rehabilitation of the land after the removal of bauxite.
“Between us we have eight sons and one daughter. We regard them all equally and love them the same. They are all indigenous – both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander -and have very strong connections to family, country and culture,” Whittle said.
Once work is out of the way and the children are under control Whittle heads out to train in and around the flora and fauna of Weipa.
Because of the heat and humidity, training needs to be completed in the early morning.
“I start at 3:45am and put in a couple of hours either riding, running or swimming before the morning rush of getting the others off to work or school,” Whittle said.
Often his wife joins him on the bike or running, which also provides some unwelcome obstacles.
“I have run over countless snakes, swarms of insects, ducked low flying flying-foxes, come face to face with feral pigs, swerved past an errant croc on the road and held on for dear life through the pot holes,” Whittle said.
One of the other challenges is that there is just 30km of sealed roads in Weipa.
“The bitumen extends 15km north over a 1.5km single lane bridge which is always exciting no matter how polite the miners are and 15km south to the airport and southern haul road. That’s it – endless laps.”
The Whittles have put in a 12m pool in their backyard so he can train because the local pool is not open early enough.
“I can train early as and the kids get to swim and enjoy.”
IRONMAN is always special and there’s a fair bet that it will be an extra special experience for Roderick Whittle.