Breaking pain barrier

By Kirra Livingstone

BEERWAH High teacher Ash Hunter defied all to compete in the 2022 Ironman World Championships in Kona, after fighting a rare form of endometriosis.

Hunter first qualified for the championships in 2019 before her diagnosis, and although she said her fitness went down after her treatment began, it did not stop her from achieving a lifelong dream.

“I was finally diagnosed with diaphragmatic endometriosis, and I could work towards getting healthy again, so I had only been able to exercise for about 4 months in the lead up to the race,” she said.

“… I got quite ill with a disease for 18 months and I had to get a surgery and go through some treatment after it, so I got really unfit I couldn’t even run 300m 12 months ago.

“Although I knew I wouldn’t be competitive at the championships, but it was a bucket list event to be able to compete and to finish the Hawaiian ironman.”

Her outcome in the championships did not match what she had envisioned for herself, however she was still proud of herself for even competing in the first place.

“I came third last in my age category and finished four hours slower compared to my qualification in 2019,” she said.

“But I’m even more proud of myself because of what it took to be able to get fit and healthy again after battling with the disease.

Hunter’s love for triathlons started when she was a student at Beerwah High, winning her first school triathlon at a young age.

“My love for triathlons definitely started at Beerwah High, my senior PE teacher had talked to me about training programs, and I got to write my training program for the senior triathlon,” she said.

“I won the Beerwah High senior triathlon which was my first triathlon I had competed in but stopped doing them when I left school.

“This was until 2014 when my husband who is a pro triathlete and an ex Beerwah High student, competed in the Kona Ironman championships, which inspired me to get back into it.”

Ash teaches sport, math, science, and home economics at Beerwah High, and uses her experiences from the last few years to inspire her students.

“I try to remind them that nothing is impossible, never give up, we are never experts the first time we try something and if you want to achieve something you just have to practice for it,” she said.