Incredible stories of personal endurance and passion: Kaihau races during chemo, and McKinnon tackles a Coolie double
Two incredibly inspirational racers crossed the finish line today in the 21km Short Course, a race that traverses a 10 km ski, 2km swim, 3km board and before finishing with a 5.5km soft sand run to complete under the bright orange Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold finish arch.
Tainui Kaihau (Noosa Heads) is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia that was diagnosed in early 2016.
His sister Grace won the under-19 women’s race last year, saying she was inspired to win by her brother. This year it was Tainui’s chance to return the favour.
“I got to watch her last year and she did so well so she motivated me, like I motivated her,” he said.
“It was my goal to be able to do this event this year.”
The extraordinary 19 year old was cheered across the finish line to place sixth in the under-19 men’s race.
Cancer was also at the forefront of the thoughts of 35-49 years competitor Brent McKinnon (Elouera), who crossed the line second in his category, one minute behind winner Brendan Ross (Redhead).
McKinnon is racing to raise money for the Australian Cancer Research Foundation with a jaw-dropping endurance mission; racing the 21km short and 41.8 km long courses back to back.
When he crosses that finish line tomorrow McKinnon will have overcame 62.8km across two days of racing.
“It started out as a concept so I could get myself back into training, and make it a bit interesting after all these years, and I thought, well, if I could take on the short course (as well) it will make it a little different”
“Someone’s never done it before, so I thought I’ll be the silly one to try it” He said.
He hopes his efforts will encourage people to donate to his Cooly4Cancer page, which has already raised $5,682 of his $10,000 target.
McKinnon said that recent experiences with friends and family going through cancer treatment inspired him to race in their honour and race funds in the process.
“I thought it was a good idea to raise some awareness through doing something unique” he explained.
The humble athlete who crossed the line today with his daughter in his arms, is confident ahead of tomorrows big race.
“I’ll probably know pretty quickly, in the first five or ten k’s. I don’t think I went out there too hard today, I conserved where I could.”
For tonight, he has careful plans to prepare and recover his energy.
“A lot of recovery, make sure I eat right, plenty of fluids, bit of massage and probably a light swim this afternoon just to try and get moving again”
The 41.8km Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold long course races will start at Coolangatta from 7.30am Sunday, following a tribute to former Ironman competitor Dean Mercer, who died recently aged 47.
Competitors will observe a minute’s silence and raise their paddles in tribute to Mercer ahead of a traditional ski start for the elite class races, that will feature the likes of Ali Day, Shannon Eckstein, Courtney Hancock and Rebecca Creedy, and will be started by Dean’s brother Darren.