Sunday may have been a day like any other for most of us, but for ELE’s Charley Marsh, it was certainly one to remember. She entered the Kapiti Women’s Triathlon. The event itself has been running since 1983, but for Charley, it was the first event like this in which she’d participated; not that you could tell with her very respectable time of 1 hour, 29 minutes and 39 seconds.
The idea to enter the race came about several months before when Charley had caught a glimpse of a billboard advertisement and was struck by a flash of inspiration. ‘It was like a lightbulb moment,’ Charley told me. ‘I went home to my flatmate and said “I’ve had this crazy idea and I need you to talk me out of it”, but she said it was a great idea. I had to go for it then’.
A triathlon is no mean feat for anyone, but Charley admits it was more difficult given the hellish time she’d had in the year leading up to her decision to take part: ‘I was not in a good way mentally’. Even on the Tuesday training session a few days before, she was ‘fighting a panic attack when [she] was out on the water’. That didn’t stop her though. Come Sunday, she was ready.
‘I was a little nervous when I was waiting around for the start,’ Charley admitted, ‘but as soon as I started swimming, I had the biggest grin on my face’. Asked how it felt to go from the pain of the months before to the finish line in sight, Charley told me how much of a cathartic process it had all been. ‘Going down the final hill, there were tears streaming down my face’. ‘Tears of joy, hopefully?’ I asked. ‘Definitely. It was a real healing process’.
Given the overwhelmingly positive effect the triathlon has had on her life, Charley is already eyeing up a repeat performance for next year, having recently joined the Kapiti Cycling Club in preparation. ‘I reckon I can take ten minutes off my time if I work hard; although I want to get a road bike rather than my mountain bike for next time,’ she said, laughing.
We can’t congratulate Charley enough for this wonderful achievement and we wish her all the best for next year’s event!