IT isn’t about how many times you fall, but how many times you get up.
Beryl Wilson knows that better than most after she twice dragged herself off the ground to be the last athlete home at Ironman Kona three weeks ago.
The 66-year-old Camden Head triathlete finished the event 10 minutes before the cut-off, complete with a cut face, broken glasses and a fractured right ankle.
The facial cuts required more than 40 stitches.
“Not finishing was never an option; it was going to happen and that was that,” Wilson said.
She completed the final 17 kilometres of the event on one leg after a fall on the pitch black highway following courtesy of an uneven road surface.
“You couldn’t see your face,” she said.
“I was running quite nicely at that stage and somehow I was on the very right-hand edge of the road and found myself face down.
“I didn’t have any clue I was on the edge of the road, let alone the middle of the road because out there it’s on a major highway so there are no lights.”
An injured Wilson was then ushered across the highway and into a waiting emergency vehicle where the patch-up work began.
“They sat me in the back of the ute for 17 minutes which I got very cross about,” she said.
“Adrenalin got me through.
“Even when I was sitting in the ute at 17-kay to go, they were trying to tell me they’d take me back in the car and things will be fine, and I said ‘no, if I can’t run I’ll walk’.”
Not finishing was never an option; it was going to happen and that was that.Camden Head triathlete Beryl Wilson
Twenty minutes later, Wilson was heading towards the finish line, struggling to put any weight on her ankle.
But there were still two more challenges to overcome.
As Wilson headed down a hill similar to Matthew Flinders Drive, she could see the finishing line, but there was still some hard work ahead.
“The finish line is below you and you can hear the announcer and everything, but you’ve got to go around and back again – it’s awful,” she said.
Despite having husband Ron by her side for the final five kilometres, the pain eventually took its toll when she again fell – this time in the finishing chute.
“I fell again because I couldn’t put weight on the right ankle,” she said.
“I deliberately went from the middle of the chute to the people and out to the hoardings and tried to grab onto them.”
It was here where Pete Murray played his part when he helped Wilson across the line.
The finish line is below you and you can hear the announcer and everything, but you’ve got to go around and back again – it’s awful.Beryl Wilson
“He was fantastic,” she said.
Wilson was the final timed athlete to cross the finish line 10 minutes from cut-off and a long time after she started the event at 7.20am that morning.
And are her Ironman days over?
“I’m dithering with the ankle and then dithering with the mind,” she said.
“It will be touch and go for Ironman Port Macquarie; I think maybe my Ironman days are over, but we’ll see.”