Triathlete puts best foot forward
Cycling through lava fields in 40C temperatures and 72km/h winds is a challenge 55-year-old Rockingham triathlete Gloria Stewart looks forward to tackling next month.
Completing the Busselton Ironman in December last year in 11 hours, 12 minutes and 16 seconds, after a two-year break, was a personal best and earned Gloria a place in the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, where on October 10 she will compete against more than 2000 people.
Hawaii is considered the birthplace of the triathlon, after a navy couple initiated the course in 1977 as a way to challenge athletes who were successful endurance swimmers, runners and cyclists.
Gloria took up the sport about 25 years ago after her husband David founded the Rockingham Triathlon Club.
“I decided it was something we could do together instead of sit on the sideline watching him,” she said.
“I started with fun runs, then learnt how to swim, took up cycling and decided I could do it.
“Initially it was pretty hard because I wasn’t very fit.”
Despite a six-week setback in January when Gloria broke her foot while running at Point Peron, she has been training two to three sessions a day, rain, hail or shine, for the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run.
She said the sessions varied but included a swim of up to 4km, a 90km ride on weekdays with up to 170km routes on weekends, and running between six and 20km a day building up to three-hour runs on the weekend.
“It’s absolutely horrible training in the dark, wind, cold and storms,” she said.
“If I think about how warm it is in bed I wouldn’t get there.”
Gloria thought her days of competing were over but said taking charge of her health with a nutritional cleansing program paired with isogenics had given her a “new lease on life”.
“I have so much energy and my body is capable of anything,” she said.
“I have improved my personal best by 30 minutes.
“I’m training less but getting better results.
“I’ve been working on my swimming technique to reduce my time and a program with coach Justin Brown.
“I’m overwhelmed — I feel I’ve been gifted a second lease and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be competing in a world championship.”
Gloria said she was unsure how she would cope with the heat, but had been training in the middle of the day and will arrive two weeks prior to the race to acclimatise.
“I’d be happy to finish but it would be absolutely amazing to win my age group,” she said.
“What I’ve achieved is the pinnacle of my sporting goals.”
Rockingham 55-year-old triathlete Gloria Stewart is excited to compete at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, next month.