Former Wellington Firebird batsman Josh Brodie has hit asthma for six – now he’s swapping his bat for a bike to compete in the Ironman to raise money for charity.
In just over four months, on March 2 2024, Josh will compete in the Taupō Ironman which involves a 4km swim, 180km bike, and a 42km marathon run.
His goal is to complete this in under 11 hours and raise $50,000 for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ at the same time.
In preparation for the big race, he will also compete in a Half Ironman in Melbourne this Sunday (November 12) and a Half Ironman in Taupō on December 9.
35-year-old Brodie has lived with asthma his whole life and was no stranger to A&E as a child.
“I remember running into my mum and dad’s room, panicked, shaking them awake because I couldn’t breathe. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget. It was scary, but that was, sadly, the reality of a Brodie winter.”
But Brodie is proof you can live with a respiratory condition and still achieve your biggest dreams, he says.
“From 8 years old, my goal was to be a professional cricketer and I got there.
“From where I was, to be able to live that dream, I’m super proud of myself and I have a great sense of accomplishment.
“My biggest motivation came from the doctors telling me, ‘Oh you can’t do this, you can’t do that’ and I said ‘But I want to play cricket when I grow up’, and they said ‘You won’t be able to do that – your lungs aren’t good enough’.”
Brodie hopes that sharing his story and setting himself this challenge will not only raise money for a good cause, but will also help raise awareness of respiratory illnesses in New Zealand.
“If I can inspire just one kid with asthma to continue to chase their dreams then it’s all worth it.”
Besides the health scares, there can sometimes be a stigma associated with having asthma as a child. When Brodie was growing up, he recalls hiding his inhalers and using them in secret – especially at school, he says.
“It wasn’t cool so I would always hide taking my inhaler where my friends couldn’t see and laugh at me – which is silly, but at 10 years old, that’s how you think.”
Brodie played for the Firebirds for about seven years, before bowing out and starting his hospitality career.
Brodie managed hotels in New Zealand and Australia, before returning from Melbourne to Wellington two years ago. He is now the manager of Les Mills Gym Lambton Quay.
Training for an Ironman is no small feat, with about 15 hours each week dedicated to preparing.
“But it’s all for a good cause, so it’s easy to wake up for that.”
“Whether the donation is big or small, it’s more about support and creating the awareness and education and inspiring young Kiwis that they can achieve whatever they put their minds to,” Brodie says.
“With 1 in 7 Kiwis living with some sort of respiratory issue, I think everyone knows someone with asthma.”
Foundation Chief Executive Ms Letitia Harding says Josh is a great role model for the thousands of Kiwi children living with asthma.
“Josh’s willingness to share his past struggles with asthma, like hiding inhalers at school, highlights the stigma that can still exist around respiratory conditions.
“His determination to inspire young people with asthma to pursue their dreams, despite their condition, is a powerful and inspiring message.”