I DID IT! RE­PORT FROM THE FRONT LINE

Triathlon Plus - - Uptospeed -

JAN HANNAFORD Age: 62 From: Pem­broke, Wales Fin­ish time: 16.10

‘IRON­MAN? That’s just crazy’ was my first re­ac­tion.

Then, five years ago, I watched my son, David, com­plete Iron­man Wales and the idea took root, de­spite the fact that I could only swim breast­stroke and my bike had a bas­ket on the front.

I started with lo­cal sprint triathlons, then Olympic. At my first half dis­tance, I won the Welsh long-dis­tance ti­tle for my age group. To be col­lect­ing sport­ing awards at my age was a lit­tle crazy.

Af­ter a hor­ren­dous sea swim, I missed the bike cut off for Iron­man Wales 2014 by 90 sec­onds. Gut­ted, I signed up for 2015, where only then did I win my place in Kona.

Walk­ing to the swim start, in Hawaii, my eyes filled with tears. Swim­ming over a tur­tle was mag­i­cal; my swim was steady and in ex­actly the time I’d pre­dicted.

The first 30 miles on the bike were fine and then the wind kicked in, which meant work­ing on the down­hills too.

A high­light was see­ing race leader Jan Fro­deno as he sped to­wards me, well on his way back to T2. He was closely fol­lowed by other ath­letes and then Daniela Ryf came flying by.

On the 20km climb to Hawi, I dropped to a snail’s pace. Af­ter the turn­around, the wind was still in my face and I knew my time wasn’t go­ing to be as fast as I’d hoped.

At aid sta­tions, I shoved ice down my top and over my hel­met, and grabbed wa­ter. It was a long, slog back to T2, and at one point I had a lit­tle sob. Af­ter a strict talk­ing to, I upped my game and bat­tled on. Out on the run, I fol­lowed a walk 20 paces, run 20 paces pat­tern. Fi­nally, I was high-fiv­ing the crowd all along the fi­nal mile. The at­mos­phere was in­cred­i­ble.

Break­ing into a run, I crossed the fin­ish line to hear ‘Jan Hannaford – you are an Iron­man’ and had a lei placed around my neck by Daniela Ryf.

The mem­o­ries will last for­ever and I hope my achieve­ments in­spire oth­ers, women in par­tic­u­lar, to reach higher to see what they are ca­pa­ble of.

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