health podcasts

Turia Pitt just finished a frickin' Ironman World Championship. We bow down.

There are no words to describe how extraordinary this woman is.

After five years and 200 operations, burns survivor Turia Pitt just completed the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

She completed the 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, and then the 42.2 km marathon, in just over 14 and a half hours.

In an inspirational post on social media, the 29-year old said she “gave it everything.”

Turia Pitt’s story is one many Australians are familiar with. Five years ago, she was competing in an ultra-marathon in Western Australia when she and three other runners became trapped by a huge grass fire.

We often hear about her incredible spirit, athletic prowess and charity work, but in Mia Freedman‘s No Filter podcast, the 29-year old reveals another side: her cheeky humor (she’s actually hilarious), the most challenging, strange and perplexing moments of her recovery, and how she won’t let anything stop her.


During the candid interview the former mining engineer talks about how “awkward” it was to have dead people’s skin grafted onto her own, and how strangers will yank on her hair to see if it’s a wig or not.

“They had to get cadaver skin into Australia from America, because we didn’t have any here, which I find really bizarre. We have a skin bank, but there was no skin in the bank when I had my accident,” she tells Mia.

“They got the skin to Kingsford-Smith Airport [in Sydney], and customs wouldn’t let it through. How awkward is that? So my surgeon just got on the phone and said, ‘Mate, if we don’t get this skin today, this woman is going to die’.”

The burnt skin on Turia’s legs, arms, face, neck and backside — the parts of her body that were exposed to the fire — was removed, and the cadaver skin was applied. “I had [skin from] black people, Asian people, all of those different colours… [I was like] a multi-coloured person quilt,” she laughs.


Click through for a gallery of Turia Pitt (Post continues after gallery):

Along with her skin, Turia’s long hair is also her own; because she was wearing a hat during the ultramarathon, it wasn’t affected by the fire. “A woman came up to me in the shops one day and she said, ‘Is your hair real?’ and she yanked my ponytail. What a bitch!” she laughs.

When her early surgeries were complete and she was discharged from hospital, Turia was required to wear a full-body compression suit with a mask for two years to allow her skin to heal.

“I’ve got a driver’s license and a passport photo with my compression mask on. How crazy is that?” Turia says.

Although the physical pressure of the suit was challenging, Turia says the mask was the most difficult part for her — especially when it came to her social interactions.

“I stuck out like dog balls. It’s pretty bloody obvious if someone’s walking around with a mask on. I didn’t really like that,” she admits.

“You couldn’t read my facial expressions with the mask on. That was frustrating because I like to play jokes on people… I’d make a joke and then no-one would laugh and I’d be like, ‘argh’.”

Although the accident has changed her life in countless ways — especially where her career is concerned — Turia refuses to let it define her.

“Physically, it’s pretty obvious what I’ve gone through. But for me, emotionally, I think, ‘Well, the fire was only five seconds of my life, and I don’t want to let that five seconds tell me who I am and what I can do and what I can’t do in this world’,” she says.

“But every morning I wake up and I see my hands and remember what happened to me, but I just get out of bed and get on with my day.”

You can listen to the interview in full here: