When you can say you’re 6th at the IM 70.3 World Champs…

It’s taken me some time to come around to writing this, mostly because I don’t really believe it happened, and was waiting to see more finisher photos for it to sink in. Which it kinda has.

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It definitely wasn’t a flat course with 650m climb on the bike – but the headwind for the first 40 km was a bigger obstacle.

So on the 1st of September was I took part in the IM 70.3 World Championships in South Africa, my first time racing any sort of Championship race as a pro.

My plan was to go for experience, of course race as hard as possible, but with limited expectations. So here’s an account of how the race went down from my perspective.

The World Champs was split into two days: day 1 being women’s day, and day 2 being men’s day. I have never raced in such a format, but have to say that I really enjoyed it. It meant that the women had a ‘true race’ if you like, with no additional parameters that varied depending on where you came out the water (ie age group men coming out the water with you and pacing you etc).

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Can you spot me? Sarah True (green hat), Heather Wurtele, Jeanni Seymour, ME, Daniela Ryf, Agnieszka Jerzyk. P.C Talbot Cox

After the swim warm up, the pro females lined up, waiting for the opening ceremony. I don’t think I appreciated this as much as I should have, mainly because I was trying not to think of the race as a big deal, and doing my best to ignore the show in an effort to appease the nerves. I guess it kinda worked apart from the moment it caught up with me on the bike and I was a little sick in my mouth.

I was ranked high enough to be called out at the beginning and choose my line up position on the start line, which is beneficial to get a straighter line to the first buoy.

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With the 2nd group on the bike – Sarah True and Pamella Oliviera behind me. It was cold and windy and I was unblocking my nose…

When the gun, wait no, cannon, went off, the women ran down the beach and into the waves to start the 1.9km sea swim. The water was cold and burned my head in that explosive kind of way. But, unsurprisingly, there were enough distractions to think about, most importantly who was where and why was someone unnecessarily pulling me under. I got out of that situation and stuck on some feet. Coming out of the water, I realized that I was in the lead chasing pack behind Lucy Charles, alongside six others including Daniela Ryf, Anne Haug, Radka Vodickova and Sarah True.

We hurried through transition, with crowds screaming as we hopped on our bikes. It was then a 90 km bike ride, undulating with some steeper and longer climbs in the middle section. A strong headwind on the way out, that turned into a nice tailwind on the way back. I rode with a group of 5 girls, with Daniela shooting past us up the first hill – ironically named Mt Pleasant.

We stayed riding 12m apart, with lots of marshalls patrolling up and down as well as tv crews. At the turnaround we got a glimpse of the race leaders Daniela leading Lucy who were a few km in front of us. I could tell how far ahead they were by tracking the helicopter that was following them.

On the way back, I took the front of the group for 10 or so km, trying to keep consistent and the pace up as I was aware that in the 2nd chase group a couple minutes back were some very strong runners.

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In A LOT of pain in the last 1km of the fastest 1/2 marathon of my life to date. Good day to PB on!

Off the bike and into T2, which for once I felt I nailed coming out first from our riding pack and in 3rd position overall! This didn’t last for too long as Anne Haug effortlessly skipped past my, on a hunt for 2nd place which she dug 4 minutes into but finished 3rd in the end.

Meanwhile, I was caught by Radka Vodickova who I hadn’t raced in a couple of years, while she’d casually had a baby. I let her pace me and it swapped a couple of times. I didn’t look at my watch, as I knew if I wanted to hang onto a top position, slowing down was not an option as the runners behind would catch pretty quickly.

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Running side by side with Radka Vodickova. PC Talbot Cox

We ran like this from the 2nd to the 16th kilometer, when the Brazilian girl Oliviera, who had been sitting 20-30m behind us the whole race pounced just before the final uphill to the last turnaround. My legs broke on the final downhill, and the last 3km were a struggle to the finish, trying to mentally and physically keep it together as I knew the girls behind me were gaining.

The crowds and support the whole way along the course were absolutely phenomenal, and kept me moving right to the very end.

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Imo’s look of finish line relief

I crossed the line in 6th place overall, absolutely elated but also physically destroyed. It was straight to the massage tent being crutched by my mother to avoid the legs cramping as it was on the brink of happening.

When your legs ‘go’ like mine did that day, and you still have a few km to run on them, you know that the recovery is going to be hard.

A few races left this season and starting to think about the main goals for 2019. How time flies!

Thank you to all my supporters, family, friends, people who have given me advice and worked with me to get me fit and healthy. In particular Jurgen Zack and my parents for their support and putting up with me. Also to my sponsors for helping me achieve my goals; Z-Coaching Phuket, Maserati, White and Wong, Revv Energy Thailand, Jiakina Customized, Sailfish, Project Artisan Layan Phuket, and excited to announce the start of my partnership with Tappit – check’em out for events…end of season is coming!

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