One wish — get to the fin­ish line

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Letters To The Editor -

Aus­tralian triath­lete Laura Den­nis has fond mem­o­ries of Taupo¯ and will line up at the Iron­man 70.3 Taupo¯ on Satur­day with her third­place fin­ish in the short­ened 2017 race top of mind.

But she has some more re­cent mem­o­ries that she is look­ing to bury with a steady per­for­mance that brings her safely to the fin­ish line. It all started to go wrong for the 23 year old in May this year.

“I was given the bad news that some sore­ness in my leg was in fact a fibula stress frac­ture. I pa­tiently fol­lowed doc­tors’ or­ders and spent eight weeks wear­ing a moon­boot, walk­ing with the help of crutches and get­ting plenty of rest,” said Den­nis. “That was tough enough, but on my re­turn to grad­ual weight bear­ing in June, my an­kle com­pletely broke. I was then forced to have surgery to re­move an ex­tra bone called an Os Trigonum and plate the fibula.

“I had a to­tal of 14 weeks on crutches, and 18 weeks ei­ther in a moon­boot or non-weight bear­ing. In to­tal it was six long months of no run­ning!” Den­nis said the in­jury came at just the wrong time, not that there is ever a right time.

“I had qual­i­fied for Iron­man 70.3 World Champs and was num­ber 12 in the world rank­ings prior to these in­jures, and of course I was dev­as­tated to miss out on that and other races. The only sen­tence I kept re­peat­edly say­ing was ‘can I please still race Taupo¯ this year’ and thank­fully, I have made it to the start line!” It is not just any race for Den­nis, it is a venue she loves re­turn­ing to, one that will host the 2020 Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onships.

“Taupo¯ is my favourite race lo­ca­tion so far on the 70.3 Iron­man cir­cuit. I raced here in 2017 and placed third. I love the course, the town and ev­ery­thing about this pic­turesque venue.

“I couldn’t be hap­pier to say I’m com­ing back!”

Given the year she has en­dured, Den­nis does have re­al­is­tic goals on Satur­day.

“This will be my sec­ond race since Fe­bru­ary so to be hon­est, my goal for this race is to cross the fin­ish line with a smile on my face! I raced West­ern Sydney a cou­ple of weeks back and was quite sat­is­fied with my fourth place con­sid­er­ing I had only re­turned to run­ning seven weeks prior, fol­low­ing six months off run­ning and three months off the bike.” There has been a bright side to all the time off her feet, al­beit at the ex­pense of what used to be her best dis­ci­pline.

“My swim and bike are prob­a­bly stronger than prior to my in­jury, how­ever I sim­ply don’t have the run kilo­me­tres in my legs just yet. The run used to be my strength, so it took me a lit­tle bit of men­tal strength last week to be passed by two girls on the run when usu­ally the op­po­site is the case for me.

“I look for­ward to giv­ing my best on Satur­day in New Zealand, and what­ever the out­come is, I’m beyond ex­cited to just be there.”

Den­nis will line up in a strong Pro Women’s field on Satur­day morn­ing, with a num­ber of strong con­tenders in the mix in­clud­ing 2017 Kel­logg’s Nutri-Grain Iron­man New Zealand cham­pion Jo­ce­lyn McCauley (USA), 2018 Iron­man 70.3 West­ern Sydney cham­pion Radka Vod­ick­ova (CZE) and up and com­ing New Zealand pro Han­nah Wells.

Photo / Iron­man

Laura Den­nis (right) on the podium at Iron­man 70.3 Gee­long in Fe­bru­ary this year.

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