Gympie man takes on United States terrain
Running: Gympie man Paul Hehir finished 20th at the 2018 Spartan World Championship, taking on the difficult terrain of the United States.
Hehir travelled to North Lake Tahoe, California and competed in the over-50s category, with his own goal in mind.
"The winner finished with a time of about five hours and I clocked five hours and 20 minutes and finished 20th out of 25 competitors,” he said.
"I knew going in I was not going to compete with some of the other competitors, and I just wanted to get under six hours.
"The winner of my category did it the next day, he competed in the ultra.”
This was Hehir's sixth race and he was happy he was competitive.
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"One of my main aims before travelling for the race was not to finish last,” he said.
"I did a Spartan race in Hawaii in about six hours and I was hoping to get under that, even though these two races are different.”
Hehir found the temperature difficult to adjust to, as it was autumn in California on September 29-30.
"We had a 150m swim through a lake which was almost frozen,” he said.
"A few people got hypothermia from the swim, so it was cancelled the next day.
"Once you get out you try and warm-up and it takes a while. But then you are back into the water again and have to dive under obstacles. It was an experience, especially coming from Queensland.”
It was not just the length of the race but all the other elements which added to the difficulty and preparation.
"The length was 23km plus 30 obstacles along the way and two big mountains of high altitudes,” he said.
"I trained harder than I ever have for a race before but still you can't really train for it.
"It was a great location which I was able to take in and a few participants even saw some bears.”
It was the travel aspect that brought Hehir to the sport.
"I started because I saw a race that was on in Hawaii when I wanted to go,” he said.
"It has all been about trips to Hawaii and an excuse to go. I am not overly serious but I enjoy training for it.”
Hehir is unsure if he will do more races now but is weighing up the switch to shorter races.
"There is a race on the Sunshine Coast next year and it is just 5km,” he said.
"That is feasible and there is 20 obstacles which I have done before, the wire crawls, sandbag carriers and rope climbs.”