Port Elizabeth endurance athlete Reon van Rensburg will now tick off the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, from his bucket list later this year.
Van Rensburg – an amateur triathlete – was given the green light to participate in the Kona race last year by the Ironman Legacy Programme after applying to take part in it.
The Legacy programme grants 100 Ironman athletes the opportunity to compete in the prestigious Ironman World Championship.
However, to be eligible for selection, athletes must have completed a minimum of 12 full-distance Ironman-branded races, have never started the iconic Ironman World Championship, have completed at least one Ironman event in each of the two previous seasons and be registered for an Ironman event in the qualifying year.
The 46-year-old father of two has participated in – and completed – 13 Standard Bank African Championships since 2005. He will be lining up for his 14th race on Sunday next week at Port Elizabeth’s Hobie beach in Summerstrand.
“I have always had a bucket list of races that I wanted to complete and believe it or not Kona was 10th on that list,” Van Rensburg said.
“I do not have the talent to win an age group, however, I always knew that there is a legacy programme,” he said.
“I completed my 12th race in 2016 and I applied. Later that year they came back saying my application for 2017 was unsuccessful, but I will be afforded the opportunity to race in Kona this year.
“I still need to go there and finish the race, but it’s just amazing. I am blessed and thankful for the opportunity. My wife and kids are going with me.”
Van Rensburg, who works as a human resources manager at Netcare Greenacres Hospital, came across an article in Sport Illustrated a couple of years back on the Ironman that took place in Gordons Bay in 2002.
The article struck a chord with him and he thought at the time, if an opportunity presented itself to take part in an Ironman event he definitely would grab it with both hands.
“I actually cut out the article and I still have it with me. Now, it’s 13 years down the line . . . time has flown I can’t believe it, ” he smiled.
“I have only taken part in the full Ironman event here in PE, but I have also done two 70.3 distances in East London.
“I enjoy the lifestyle. I don’t get too involved with it. I have a full-time job and I still need to spend time with my family. I enjoy the race from a life-style point of view and I enjoy training for it.
“It’s a one-day event. the next day you go back to your family. I am driven, my motto is perseverance. I will continue doing the race for as long as I am healthy and I have got the means to do it. That is why I keep going back. I enjoy it.”
Beside Ironman events, Van Rensburg does other endurance sports. He has taken part in 11 Two Oceans and has 10 Comrades marathons under his belt.
“I just enjoy being out there and pushing myself. I like to suffer in those events, because you get to know yourself and push through those boundaries and through those limits,” he said.
“Because I have been afforded the opportunity to race in Kona this year, my training for the African Champs has gone well. I don’t overdo it. You do have to look after your body.
“I have been cycling a bit more than previous years and then the running you just go through the motions. I don’t chase time, I just go and participate.
“My strongest discipline is probably the run but when you get off the bike you are so smashed you don’t run that well.”