Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Inspired by watching his fellow Pacific brothers compete in local ironman competitions, Tagaloa Michael Stowers has turned what appeared to be an impossible dream into reality.
By the time Tagaloa turned 40 he had already completed a total of 17 ironman competitions. And there is no sign of him slowing down as he gears up to compete in the annual 2022 Kona Ironman World Championships in Hawai’i alongside two thousand athletes.
The 56 year old will be there front and centre and is ready to put his best foot forward.
Kona Ironman begins with a 3.8 kilometre swim, followed by a 180 kilometre bike ride, finishing with a full marathon run of 42 kilometres. Having done this 17 times before, Tagaloa is definitely taking a shift in his training regime.
“I suppose I’ve taken it a bit more seriously. I’ve got some good advice and a good training programme.”
The challenges in Kona Hawaii have been the wind, the heat and the hills. The athlete believes he can combat it by staying hydrated and pacing himself.
“I’ve got a 15 hour deadline that I’m training for in case something goes wrong. [I want to] enjoy myself and meet all the stars.”
Finding balance in his family, work and mental strength has been encouraging.
“I suppose I rely on muscle memory and being mentally tough you develop that over years and years of doing Ironmans.”
With high hopes for the race, Tagaloa has set personal goals of his own; the main aim, to complete the race.
He calls it the ‘Lanterne Rouge’ award – the last person to cross the finish line; a significant part of his training motto. “Finishing is winning, that’s how I see it”