Shortly after retiring from a successful 19-year career as a National League water polo goalkeeper, he strongly declined the opportunity to join a team at the 2010 IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship, Melbourne saying, “No chance. I can’t run.”
Yet following several personal blows, including the death of his father, and despite never having run 1km in his life he opted to give IRONMAN a crack and entered the 2013 IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship.
"I found myself looking for some positivity, so I got in touch with a marathon coach, John Bell, and set about learning how to run," he says. "It was either go to the pub and drink away the pain or bury myself in goal setting, hard work and a really positive goal that I previously thought impossible."
Despite an injury riddled build-up and his lack of distance running experience, he was "blown away" to run the entire distance on his IRONMAN debut in 4:19 for an overall time of 9:57.
"The feeling when I crossed the line was indescribable,” he says. “It was one of the best single moments of my life."
He completed his second IRONMAN event in Bussleton later in 2013 and he was "surprised and dumbfounded" to discover via the All World Athlete programme that he had racked up enough points to finish within the top five percent of finishers in his age group.
Wartlock’s IRONMAN ambitions suffered a huge jolt in April last year when just ten days after the birth of his baby daughter, Annabelle, he snapped his clavicle into five pieces, fractured two ribs and punctured a lung after coming off his bike. He spent six days in hospital following the crash but he finally feels ready to compete in his third IRONMAN event.
Fully embracing the “inclusiveness” of the IRONMAN community, the owner of a meal plan delivery business is looking forward to once again proving his ability to run.
"Having been an elite athlete for so many years it was actually nice to start at the bottom and attempt to do something I never thought possible," says Wartlock, 39. "I still can’t comprehend IRONMAN racing. I can’t understand how it’s possible to run a marathon after getting off a bike with 180kms in the legs. I really can’t understand how I’ve done two of these and that I think it is okay to attempt another."
IRONMAN race day will see over 3,000 age group athletes chasing their own personal bests.
The Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, incorporating the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns | Flight Centre Active Travel IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns, will be held from Sunday, June 7 – Monday, June 15, 2015.
For event information visit www.ironmancairns.com
Courtesy: Ironman Asia-Pacific