From MasterChef to Ironman competitor

La Lucia resident, Joani Mitchell recently completed her first Ironman African Championship challenge in Port Elizabeth.

LA Lucia resident, Joani Mitchell recently completed her first Ironman African Championship challenge in Port Elizabeth. Incredibly, this was the former MasterChef contestant’s first full Ironman race. She completed the event in 14.10 hours. What’s more Mitchell, participated in the event to raise epilepsy awareness and to honour her nephew, Marco, who is battling the neurological disorder.

“It all started about 10 months ago. I was at a function and afterwards someone said ‘don’t you want to do something that represents women of your age category?’. Doing things outside the box, that’s my love language. It was also in an effort to promote Durban and I accepted the challenge.

“At that stage, I had never up to the stage, run more than 10 kilometres. The morning after, I woke up thinking what had I done. I got in touch with a trainer called Justin Hand, who has been phenomenal. Within two sessions he assured I’d be able to do the half Ironman which is what I did. After that, the bug bit and I just wanted to keep going,” she said.

In December, Mitchell decided to complete the full Ironman, which included a 3.8 kilometre surf swim, a 180 kilometre on the bicycle and a 42 kilometre run.

“For three months I was part of an intensive training camp, getting myself ready for PE, which is the home of Ironman. What was incredible was how the people of the City come alive. The residents were feeding us from their homes, giving us sandwiches and bringing us trays of potatoes. It really carries you through, you float through the event because of the spirit and the kindness of the people.

“Accepting this challenge, I also wanted to do the race in connection with an awareness drive. I decided to do it for my nephew, Marco, who suffers from epilepsy. He has a Facebook page called Miracle Marco, which was started to raise awareness for epilepsy, help children in need and inspire. It is a cause close to my heart. The amazing thing was the week of the race so happened to be Epilepsy awareness week,” she explained.

Joani Mitchell at the finish line.

Joani Mitchell after finishing the race.

Mitchell said coming across the finish line was an emotional rollercoaster.

“I came across the finish line in a flood of tears. Before the race, I had so many messages from people wishing me all the best and supporting me so I was really emotional before the event had started. People I didn’t even know were sending the most beautiful messages.

“I am forever changed from this experience and I am so very grateful for my able body, my strong mind, the incredible friendships I have made. I want to continue to campaign and raise awareness for epilepsy in South Africa and hopefully at the next event in Durban, I’m able to do that,” she said.

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