Pete Wilkinson owes his brother a drink.
Without him he never would have made it to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
Wilkinson’s journey began after watching his brother Shane compete at the Ironman New Zealand in 2007.
Two years later, he tackled his first event after competing at Coast to Coast and other multisport events previously.
In 2013 he got serious, hired a trainer and had the end goal in mind of making the world championships.
About six people from the New Zealand event qualify for the worlds and this year he placed seventh.
“I missed out by one spot.”
After a friend’s recommendation, he headed across the ditch and competed at the Ironman Asia-Pacific, in Cairns, where 12 spots were up for the world championships.
He placed ninth.
“It was my best time by far. I was 9hr 44min,” Wilkinson said.
“It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.
“It took me nine times to qualify for it [worlds].”
He competed in Kona last month and battled 35degC heat, which took its toll.
“I overheated when I was on the bike. It really hit me hard.”
The swim was strong, which was usually his weak point, he said.
“When I started this journey I could hardly swim.”
He went in with two goals: to finish and not walk the marathon run.
“It wasn’t about placing for me. It was about doing it,” he said.
“I’m really proud that I managed to run it.
“It was just so amazing, I had to keep pinching myself.”
His time was slower coming in at just over 11 hours but finishing was indescribable.
“Finishing . . . It was emotional.
“It’s been one heck of a journey.
“It was life-affirming getting to the world champs.
“Knowing I worked hard on a goal I had my heart set on and seeing it come to fruition was amazing.”
His wife, Kelly, was his biggest supporter in his ironman dreams.
“I don’t know how she puts up with me doing it all; training at nights, on weekends, on holidays,” he said.
“It’s unrelenting and she’s so supportive.”
He is back to training 13 to 20 hours a week, to prepare for the Ironman 70.3, in Taupo.
There is a new goal in sight – to make the Ironman 70.3 World Championship next year.
Wilkinson’s brother is still competing and has been in 13 ironman events to date.
Eventually he would be awarded a legacy place, where he could compete at the world championship without qualifying.
“He’s put lots of time and effort into it. I’d love to get over there and support him.”