• "Anything is possible"

Michelle Wardle always loved fitness and the thrill of competitive challenges—pole fitness, requiring extraordinary core strength, was her main love.

This all changed in 2013. A hysterectomy and subsequent prolapse left Michelle unable to do high impact activities, including intense core muscle exercise, ruling out pole fitness.

Despite this crushing news Michelle, ever the athlete and competitor, asked what activities she could still do. Her doctor’s response: walking, swimming and cycling.

Michelle set her sights on triathlons as a way to continue her athletic pursuits. The thought of gruelling kilometres in the pool, on the bike and on the road didn’t faze Michelle—but her doctor’s orders to limit herself to walking only posed a challenge.

“I’m so competitive, I hated the thought of being out there walking while other competitors were running past me, I just wanted to get back to full speed and beat them,” Michelle said. “It was definitely a learning curve having to limit myself to walking.”

After successfully completing the Mooloolaba Triathlon, Michelle looked at the next big challenge, the 2014 Sunshine Coast IRONMAN—70.3 miles of swimming, riding and walking, something that may have seemed impossible after her prolapse.

“It was a big challenge and I knew I didn’t want to take this on my own—I joined Team Smiddy and loved competing as part of that team environment.

“The Smiddy people were amazing, and crossing the finish line with so many of the Smiddy team there supporting me was a pretty emotional moment,” Michelle remembers.

“There were a lot of tears. I think the biggest part of this was it helped me rediscover a love for competing and physical activity that I was scared I might have lost forever.” 

Michelle’s IRONMAN experience could be described using numbers: 

  • 1.9km swim
  • 90km ride
  • 21km walk
  • 7 hours and 43 minutes on the course

But the impact of Michelle’s IRONMAN on herself, her supporters, and the Smiddy teammates cannot be quantified. 

To anyone considering doing an IRONMAN event with Smiddy, Michelle has a simple message: “Anything is possible.”

The Mater Foundation is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission ABN 96723184640.