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News > Collegians > A Marathon and Ironman Journey

A Marathon and Ironman Journey

Wayne Strong is an individual whose life has been shaped by determination and resilience. With an awe-inspiring 50 marathons and seven Ironmans, his commitment remains stronger than ever.
11 Oct 2023
Written by Nerroly Hay
Collegians
Wayne Strong (School 1971 - 1974)
Wayne Strong (School 1971 - 1974)

Wayne (School 1971-1974) considered himself an "average student" but attributes a significant part of his success to the foundation laid during his years at St Paul's. With his brothers, Alan (Big Al) and Peter, by his side and the structured school environment, his confidence was bolstered, and his life trajectory has proven anything but ordinary. 

Wayne recalls the moment when, after tending to the cows on the family farm in Korakanui, for no reason he sprinted across the distant hills. When asked why by his mother, he simply replied, "I ran up there to turn around." At the age of seven, his love for running was ignited.

Wayne's interests weren't confined to running alone, he embraced rugby, cricket, and indoor basketball during his school days. In his 3rd Form Year (Year 9) he didn't clinch victory in the School Cross Country, Wayne's determination propelled him to victory in the subsequent years, winning the Junior, Intermediate and Senior trophies and being the first St Paul’s athlete to win all three titles. 

In 1991, Wayne ran his first marathon in Rotorua, setting the stage for an incredible marathon journey. Since then he has completed an impressive 50 marathons, with his best time of 2 hours and 52 minutes being set in 1994. Notably, four of these marathons were completed in the off-season on the Gold Coast, where his brother Big Al resided. Wayne also conquered seven Ironman races, all in Taupō (starting at the age of 45 in 2004) with his best time of 12 hours, 18 minutes; an event Wayne describes as, "his longest-ever day".  During peak training, he astonishingly managed to train 24 hours a week, running 90 kilometers, swimming, and biking, while still fulfilling his responsibilities as a full-time share milker.

In addition to his athletic achievements, Wayne is a devoted family man. He is married to Leona and has five children—Daniel, Amanda, Rebecca, Michael, and Matthew—and two cherished grandchildren, Ricki and Gemma-Lee. Today, Wayne works for Paul and Donna Davies (creators and original owners of Popping Good Popcorn) on their farm and enjoys a semi-retired life, investing significant time in volunteering for clubs in Te Awamutu. He takes pride in the race-shirts he wears during his volunteer shifts, "It's a way to foster a love for sports in the next generation while giving back" says Wayne.

Wayne no longer runs whole marathons, but his commitment to fitness remains unwavering. He engages in a 5km Thursday run, a 50km Saturday bike ride, and a 9km Sunday run. 

Wayne's journey stands as a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and the impact of a supportive community. His story continues to inspire many, illustrating that true strength is found not just in personal accomplishments but also in the ability to uplift and enrich the lives of others.

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