Sim puts in a marathon effort

Peter Kennedy | Bendigo Weekly | 12-Oct-2017


THIS weekend, Bendigo’s Jason Sim will put himself through hell in search of the heaven that comes with being able to say you completed Hawaii’s Kona Ironman, the ultimate one day test of endurance and toughness in world sport.

He’s not the only Bendigo athlete taking part in the 3.8-kilometre swim, 180km bike ride and 42km marathon, with fellow Bendigo Triathlon Club member John Flood once again staring down the challenge of Kona, triathlon’s holy grail.

Earlier this week, as Sim sat down with the Weekly outside a local cafe, a succession of people passing by pause to offer their regards and wish the quietly-spoken Sim well. Not just because they know him, but also because they want to show their respect and acknowledgement for what he is attempting to do.

You also get a sense they understand and appreciate what this means to Sim, and also how hard he’s worked to qualify for Kona.

A long-time devotee of triathlon, Sim says it was an impulse decision made in consultation with wife Amy back in August to enter a half-ironman event in China that doubled as a qualifier for Kona.

That event saw him jump on a plane one Thursday, fly about 7500km to Qujing, compete at an event held more than 2000 metres above sea level, then fly back to Australia the next day, all in a bid to qualify for the pinnacle that is Kona.

“It was something I’ve never experienced before… that altitude is the highest you can get in Australia… and that’s where we started,” Sim said.

Swimming almost 2km at altitude was hard enough, but it was when Sim started his 21km run that he realised just how difficult this was going to be.

“It felt like you were running with a stitch the whole time, and you had weights on your legs, it was incredible – by far the hardest event I’ve ever done,” he said.

“Mentally I thought I just have to put one foot in front of the other because I wanted that spot.”

Because of China’s strict internet policies and a ban on Facebook, Sim did not know he had finished 40th overall, or as the 33rd male until he spoke to his family back in Bendigo later that day.

More importantly, he finished third in his age category and in doing so, secured the final qualifying spot for this weekend’s epic Kona iron man event.

All the training in the world cannot adequately prepare an athlete for the harsh extremes of Kona, where every athlete’s physical and mental capabilities are tested across one of the most stunning and unique landscapes on the planet.

To prepare himself for the heat and humidity that will be his constant companions this weekend, Sim spent his Bendigo winter training indoors with the heater and the clothes dryer on, venturing out into the cold to run wearing multiple layers of clothing.

“I’ve watched every You Tube clip I can find looked at all the pros, purely just to find out what it takes to get to the finish line,” he said.

Wife Amy, and daughters Emerson (11) and Dylan (9) remain his primary motivation, and he says their support, not just at Kona this weekend, but for many years and at countless events across Victoria and Australia, have helped him prepare for the toughest test of his life.

“It’s what will get me to the finish line,” he said.

“The race in China was without question the hardest race I’ve ever done and the number one thing that got me to the finish line and the place I did was knowing it will get the spot for my girls to see me at Kona.”

For Sim, Kona is about fulfilling a long held dream, and the chance to share his dream with his family.

“I love the challenge, I love the feeling of being fit but above all, it actually allows me to be productive and capable of handling the day to day things that come your way, be that home, work or otherwise,” he said.

“My number one goal is the finish line, so that my girls see me finish, and that’s something they’ll hang onto for the rest of their lives.”


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