Iron will drives Hore to beyond

By Riverine Herald

FROM anxiety to euphoria — there are few bigger contrasts.

Yet it was the feeling between weeks, days and even hours for Moama’s Travis Hore.

Anxiety is a regular part of his sporting endeavours which was taking Hore to New Zealand to run an ironman at Lake Taupo.

If he could get himself there, that is.

“I don’t love airports,” he said.

“I don’t particularly enjoy being in them. It’s part of the reason I had never been overseas until the week of the ironman.

“Organising flights, getting a passport, just getting there is a stressful experience.”

But Hore wanted to challenge himself.

“People have a tendency not to do things that make them uncomfortable,” he said.

“It’s like being asked to MC a wedding but choosing not to because you’re scared of public speaking. Making that choice doesn’t help you develop, you become smaller and smaller as a person.

“I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to take on the challenge and develop as a person.”

It’s part of the reason Hore, now 48, took up the sport of ironman.

For those not familiar with the sport, an ironman is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a 42.2km run.

To mere mortals it seems like a lot, but for Hore it didn’t seem that huge, despite taking up running at 40.

Hore had the bike leg — his favourite — and a running leg he was more than capable of.

But the swimming was a different story.

“I’ve really never enjoyed it,” he said.

“It’s the part of the race that I struggle with. I’m an anxious swimmer, I’ve only been swimming for three years.

“In some races you do a staggered start where two people enter and start swimming. Here, you had 1600 people starting at once. For an hour and 20 minutes all you get is thrashing arms and feet and bubbles with people swimming over each other.

“The anxiety made me want to go towards the back of the group so I had a bit of control. But again, I’m trying to improve myself every race, so I started in the middle.

“After 500 or 600 metres you get into a pattern and become less tense. But I cramped up after two-and-a-half kilometres. You can’t exactly touch the bottom and stretch out, so I went off to one side and let it calm down before I continued.”

After one hour and 21 minutes, Hore was out of the water.

The hard part, in many ways, was over – though there was still a long way to go.

“I felt a bit tired when I got out, but knowing I had the bike up next, I could get myself back on track. Smiles everywhere for me.”

New Zealand has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, but the double-edged sword is the hilly landscape.

“The hills are tough and you also cop a lot of crosswind, so it’s difficult to stay in a rhythm,” he said.

“But you are in a beautiful part of the world, so there is a lot to enjoy.”

Hore was on the bike for more than six hours and admits it took a toll.

“Maybe 30 or 40km into your second lap, you start to run out of joy,” he said.

“You’ve come a long way, you’re tired, but those hills are still there.”

More than seven hours into the race, Hore hit the run.

“When you leave transition, you hit a main road and a massive crowd is there to get you going. They’re happy and supportive, so you get a bit of a boost out of that.”

And then comes silence — and another hill.

“It’s tough,” he said.

“For me, I’m aiming to get through the first 30km as strong as I can because then I can chisel out the rest. But around the 28km mark, that cramp had gone to soreness and was now a full-blown strain.

“You don’t panic, but there is worry that you won’t make it.”

Hore had to struggle through the next stretch of the race, but soon saw light at the end of the tunnel.

“When I got to around 34km I hit my last lap and had the feeling that I’m almost home, I can get through, I just have to push.”

As the final kilometres melted away, challenges were gone and the runner’s high set in.

“I’ve never dabbled in drugs, but I had a feeling of euphoria at the end and I imagine it’s what it feels like,” he said.

“Two kilometres from home, it takes over your whole body. I’ve never had that feeling before and it lasts for maybe two days afterwards.”

The final time was 13 hours and 12 minutes — slightly over his best time of 12.35 — but Hore was more than satisfied.

He was soon back on a plane home and questioning if his third ironman was his last.

“It’s funny after the race,’’ he said.

‘‘It really does take you a while to recover and relax.

“For the first few days I was still sore, I was tired and I was really sitting back there thinking that this was enough.

‘‘I’m 48 now, it takes me longer to recover than it has in the past, so I probably sat back and thought it was the end of it.

“That lasted a few days. After that I was thinking about what is next. I’m pretty excited to do my next race.”