I DID IT! REPORT FROM THE FRONT LINE
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.