Pentath race in the chair

Pete McDonnell will compete in the half-marathon, 5km and 1500m events at this year’s Pentath.
Pete McDonnell will compete in the half-marathon, 5km and 1500m events at this year’s Pentath. Erin Smith

TWENTY-ONE years ago Pete McDonnell had an accident that left him confined to a wheelchair, but after embarking on a quest to up his fitness level and improve his health Mr McDonnell found himself obsessed with exercise.

"I went to a wheelchair conference in Brisbane and told them I had been told that if I used my arms too much I could wear out my shoulders," Mr McDonnell said.

"They said it was the opposite and if I didn't use it I would lose it.

"So I started to get fit and I haven't had a problem with my elbows or shoulders since.

"But exercise does become addictive.

"Soon enough one kilometre is not enough and you have to go further and faster."

Since starting his fitness quest Mr McDonnell has competed in the 5km event at the Warwick Pentath a couple of times, but this year he decided to up the ante and go for the half-marathon, 5km and 1500m events.

"I train four to five times a week," Mr McDonnell said.

"A minimum of a fast 5km run to a maximum of 16km.

"But mainly 10-12km."

Mr McDonnell, who competes in just his normal wheelchair - not a racing one - said he was looking forward to the challenge.

"I am aiming to complete the half marathon in 2hrs and 15min," he said.

"I should be able to do it."

The athlete said he learned something new after every run, including how to negotiate up and down hills and the best tyre pressure to race with.

Mr McDonnell said training was not always easy.

While out on a training session near Yangan with some training partners last week Mr McDonnell lost a bolt from his front wheel.

It got caught under his wheelchair and sent him in a somersault out of his chair.

"The grazes are starting to heal now, but it was lucky I wasn't going down the hill at the time."

Mr McDonnell is not the only one in the family with a passion for exercise.

His 12-year-old daughter Abbey will be completing the 5km event with him.

"It is my first time doing the Pentath," Abbey said.

The Warwick Pentath is on May 25-26.

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