Tribe Talks

IRONMAN, Ultra Marathon, World Masters Games - what next?

Storytelling is integral to tribal life - whether it's listening to your tales, our telling ours. The more we share, the more we learn about the world, the better we understand our tribe and other tribes too. This week we sat down with our accountant (better known as our "Tribal Beanie" Jacqui) to find out about her love of endurance sport and ask why on earth would you want to do an IRONMAN?

Why & how?  The 2 questions I get asked the most often.  Why would you want to do an IRONMAN? Why would you want to put your body through an ultra distance race? How can you do that? How can you physically swim 3.8kms, ride 180kms and then run a marathon?  The answer - because I can.

There is no inner secret or deep meaning as to why or how I put myself through these events.  It seems to be something ingrained, maybe something I was born with, but there is definitely one thing that drives me - a desire to achieve. I’m sure my parents also have a lot to answer for, they are both extremely successful athletes in their own right, representing NZ in swimming and water polo and even in their 70s today continue to conquer the world, makes me very proud!

From a young age I can remember always striving to do my best. I wouldn’t, or more accurately couldn’t, accept myself doing any less or giving any less than 100% in anything I did. Whether it was school cross country, a maths test or simply doing the dishes at home, nothing was acceptable to me except complete and total effort.  This didn’t always mean winning (although that was a definite motivation!) or being at the top but if I knew deep down I had not given all I had to whatever task it was I was crushed, embarrassed even.

I guess this personality type has shaped who I am today and the journey I have been on.  Tennis was my sport of choice as a teenager and it took me to all corners of the world representing NZ.  I still look back on those years as some of the best and in hindsight it was the perfect sport for me. An individual sport where you live and die by your own preparation & ability.  Reliance is on no one else, at the end of the day it is you verses your opponent going head to head, last man standing wins, not playing against a clock or a course, a battle till the end. I loved every minute of it!

As the years have gone on and my tennis playing days have dwindled, I think I’ve matured (some beg to differ!) and have learned to channel or control my efforts and attitudes but there has always been a fire burning within me.  Around each corner I’ve always needed a new goal, new challenge and motivation. Got my degree – check, got my professional accountancy qualification – check, got married and had a family – check….so then now what? It seemed a logical time in my life to then attack a dream of mine, complete an IRONMAN race. It was an itch that needed to be scratched, something internal that I knew I had to do.

And so began the training and preparation. Having never run a marathon or biked or swam anything like the distances required I was scared! But this is not something I was doing on a whim, I had a plan, I had a list (aren’t all accountants list makers?) and like anything in my life I was disciplined, highly motivated and prepared. And I loved it. It was a journey, the people you meet, the places you go to in training, physically and emotionally, are indescribable.  Hour after tedious hour up and down the pool, pounding the pavement when all you want to do is sit on the couch, or riding into oblivion to the back of beyond. You have to be driven to take on a challenge like this and you have to be surrounded by like-minded people.

Race day itself is the icing on the cake. The scary, vomit up your cornflakes, nerve wracking icing. You’re entering into the unknown, about to push yourself to a physical and mental place you may never have been before! You wake at 4am to try to shove some food in as you know you’re going to need it, you prep your bike and do your last minute gear checks, and then you squeeze into your wetsuit for one final time before the gun goes and all that training is put to bed. The day is full of so many highs and lows, but the focus cannot be on what lies ahead but only on the next stroke, the next pedal rep, or the next step.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  That’s what this day teaches you.  It is too hard mentally to be out riding 180kms and be thinking about running a marathon afterwards. One mini goal at a time gets you there, the next buoy in the swim, the next 10kms on the bike, the next aid station on the run. And then before you know it the ultimate achievement awaits – the finish chute. All those early mornings and late nights, all the sacrifices made are completely forgotten. The euphoria is tangible and once you hear the words as you cross the finish line “You are an IRONMAN” no one can take it away from you, you have earned the title and you wear it with pride.

I can’t talk for others that have done an IRONMAN or an ultra event as each person’s day and experience is different - from those who are vying for podium spots to the weekend warriors like me who just want to achieve their individual goals. But what we all have is mutual respect towards each other. We all know what it has taken to get there.  Everyone’s busy lives has meant prioritising and being disciplined during training just so we can all put forward our absolute best performance on the day.

So it’s not a fluke I have ended up working with Jenny & James and the Tribe we have created.  They allow me the autonomy to combine my work and personal lives which ensures I stay motivated and inspired. Tribe is an ambitious, high performing business and that suits me to a tee. The old cliché work hard play hard could not be more accurate. Everyone here from consultants to support staff to our Tribal leaders are always striving to give more and do more, it’s what is taking us to the next level!  

Now onto the next challenge! A 50km off road ultra marathon in Taupo is now the plan, that should keep me occupied for a few months anyway. I’ve never run that far before so it’s a limit yet to be reached but it makes me so excited. I’m ready to push myself again and see where it takes me. You don’t know unless you try, and as I tell my kids - you don’t need to be the best, you just need to be the best you can be.


Jacqui McKenzie

Chief Beanie

Tribe NZ Ltd