Failure……. and why it is freaken awesome

Last week I completed my first multi-sport event- The Wild Kiwi, based at Whangarei Heads.  The Wild Kiwi consisted of a 12 km kayak, 25 km mountain bike and a 17 km run (over some very steep terrain).

This event kicked my arse.


Being a Personal Trainer and having competed half marathons and some mini triathlons in the past, I was confident that I would complete this challenge. I currently work out 4-5 days per week at our PT Studio (Activ8 Northland), plus a couple of rugby training’s and a game on Saturday.  Along with a bit of kayaking practise (that’s another issue in itself), that is all the training I did for this event.  Basically I was arrogant.  I thought I was confident, my wife (Miranda) was telling me to go for a run or a bike instead of lifting weights, I told her to worry about her own training (she was running the 21km Wild Kiwi race).

I also had a client completing the race, I wrote him a training plan, which included up to 15 hrs a week training for the Wild Kiwi and some of the sessions lasting over 5 hrs.  But my confidence/arrogance told me I didn’t need to put the same ground work in. Learn More about Matt


7 hrs 20 mins:

I told everyone I wanted to complete the race in 61/2 hours, but secretly in my head I was gunning for under 6.   The first leg started well, I only fell out of my Kayak once in the first 7ks, and was sitting around about 20th (of 60 something).  There is a stretch of the Whangarei Habour known as the ‘mad mile’, 2 km of the kayak leg was through this (1 k out and 1 k back).  It felt like I was in the eye of a hurricane, waves knocking me off the kayak, and the wind ripping the paddle out of my hand – it was ROUGH.  During this stretch I fell out no less than 15 times, draining energy out of my body, wasting precious time and changing my mood from enjoyment to pure anger and frustration.  I went from roughly 20th to about 60th.  I was PISSED OFF.  Once back in the shelter of the harbour, I started to go hard out to start picking off some of the kayak that had passed me.  In hindsight this was pretty dumb.  I came out of the Kayak pretty buggered.

Competitive Drive:

During the bike, I started passing a few people and felt good about life again.  But after 2 hours, my legs were burning, my butt was aching, and even my triceps on my arms were giving in.  During the bike, there were some amazing views and scenery – but at the time, I couldn’t have cared less about this.  My sole mission was to make up lost time.  The bike also took longer than I had planned, obviously my one 20 min ride around Barge Park wasn’t sufficient training to riding over some serious hills, farmlands and mud.


I got some food in at the transition station from bike to run, and it was now I realised how long it was going to take me to finish.  I set off for the 17 km run, which starts with a massive mountain (I am not exaggerating- it is an actual Mt.).  I thought the up hill would never end, I had to walk most of the hill, and every time I started to run when I thought I was at the top, 20-30m later there was another set of stairs, lots of stairs.  My cardio was fine, but my body was in serious pain.  My legs were gone, My thighs were starting to cramp (maybe I swallowed too much salt water during the kayak and it was coming back to haunt me), I was in serious pain.  There were numerous moments where I had to talk to myself- I was calling myself all sorts of things, most the time out loud.  11 km later I came off the mountain and knew the end was relatively flat.  6km to go – I thought at the slowest I would run 5 min ks so told myself I had to be back within 30 mins.  I picked my pace and felt good (for the first time in 6+hrs) knowing I was 30 mins from finishing.  Wrong, less than 1 km later my legs gave up- with massive bouts of cramp, that literally threw me to the ground on all fours.  The next hour consisted of me running in mild pain, or limping in the worst pain I have ever had from exercise.  I thought of quitting a lot during this last hour (actually the whole 1 hour 20 mins to do 6km), but those who know me, that was never a real option.  I pushed through and was lucky to see a mate 2km from the end (thanks Gary), who had finished the 21 km run and had come looking for me (considering Prizegiving started in 10 minutes), he ran me in, and this really got me through to the end.



I finished 5 mins before prize giving, where a massive crowd was- my family and friends and clients were there cheering me in.  Some had waited around many hours waiting for me.  This was a painful experience- physically and emotionally.  I was destroyed body wise – serious pain, couldn’t move.  Everyone was coming up to me saying really nice things about how awesome I had done – but in my head all I could hear was, bullshit, you took far too long, you pussy!  In my head I failed, and failed big time.


Failure and why it is so Awesome:

That night I was angry and disappointed.  But that is the best thing about failure, I don’t believe failure is a bad thing.  Every time we fail we learn something about ourselves, and I learnt a lot during the race.  The next day, I woke up knowing that in 2018 I will complete the Wild Kiwi race again.  Next year I won’t fail- next year I won’t take 7hrs and 20mins.  Truth be told –  I don’t actually like the actual race (not just this race but all races), but I love the challenge, I love sharing the stories with friends and family afterwards about the adventures we had along the way.  I love the exciting nerves you have before you start.

To anyone looking to challenge themselves, the Wild Kiwi is an amazing race, well run and over some of the countries best scenery.  There are many options (you don’t have to do the multi-sport).  I challenge you to come join me next year. Or if you are interested in joining a bootcamp I take- find out more here

Don’t be scared of failure – it only makes us better.

I would love to support you in any goals you may have- please just contact me by clicking on link