Multisport: Teacher's fire shared with pupils

Andrew Sloan trains at Waikouaiti Beach in preparation for the Challenge Wanaka next week. Photo supplied.
Andrew Sloan trains at Waikouaiti Beach in preparation for the Challenge Wanaka next week. Photo supplied.
Andrew Sloan's profile on the Balmacewen Intermediate website refers to him as an ''endurance sport junkie and fitness freak''.

He couldn't have said it better himself.

Sloan will join the hordes descending on Upper Clutha next weekend for his first crack at the Challenge Wanaka event.

The Balmacewen teacher, who lives in Waikouaiti, is competing in the 30-39 age group of the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km iron distance triathlon.

In many respects, Sloan is no different from the other hardy types prepared to put their body through the wringer for the satisfaction of completing the gruelling race.

But he is certainly one of the athletes most pressed for spare time. Between his job and a young family - he and wife Cherie have sons Oscar (3) and Charlie (1) - there are not enough hours in the day.

''The key is having a fantastic wife,'' Sloan smiled.

''Cherie is great. She's a kindy teacher but she's a full-time mum at the moment and doing a great job with the boys.

''For me, it's just about being smart, and focusing on quality training. I have a lot of 5am starts. I fit in what I can around work. And living in Waikouaiti is great because I can bike to and from work and things like that.''

Sloan (33) grew up in Palmerston, where he was head boy at East Otago High School, before his tertiary studies in Dunedin.

He has always enjoyed the outdoors - tramping, climbing, ''anything with a bit of risk'' - and tried his first duathlon and triathlon while at university.

Then followed five cracks at the Coast to Coast, including four Longest Days, numerous adventure races and nine marathons.

Sloan has twice competed in the Lake Wanaka Half but this will be his first attempt at the full Challenge event.

He hopes to finish in about 12 hours but is not fussed where he places in the field.

''In shorter races, I like to be pretty competitive. This sort of thing is a bit of an unknown. It's more about the personal challenge.

''I always tell the kids at schools that you don't know your limits until you push them, and if you don't try, you'll never know.

''I try to use training as a sort of example for the kids. They're at a pretty impressionable age. I try to share some of my experiences to inspire them.

''They inspire me, too. I have kids at school who are top swimmers and their dedication to training is amazing.''

Sloan's swimming is his weakest discipline but he has no concerns about finishing the water section. He is wary of the effects the wind or the heat might have on the cycle.

While his family will be in Wanaka to cheer him on, Sloan - like all the Challenge entrants - will be on his own once the gun goes off.

''It's a funny old sport in some ways. It's just you out there, battling away. It's as much mental and physical. When you start to hurt, and the body shuts down, it comes back to the mind.''

Sloan, backed by longtime sponsor R and R Sport, is keen to delve back into serious adventure racing once his children are a little older.