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Wrapping up 2017

It’s the end of 2017, I’ve finished racing for the year and its chill time with my family and friends. This was my first year racing as a professional and it has been a great one.

My first taste of professional racing was at the Port of Tauranga Half in January. This race introduced me to benefits of being in the pro field- uncongested swimming and clear roads for the ride. I also set a new personal best time of 4:42hr.

In March I entered the Motutapu; my first off road triathlon. This race started in Wanaka with a 2km swim, followed by 47km off road MTB and then an off road run in Arrowtown.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to finish this race, coming of my bike at speed on a downhill section 3km before the run transition.  My right shoulder took the impact and my injury was later diagnosed as a Grade 5 AC Joint dislocation. I am very lucky that over the last 9 months it has stabilised and does not require surgery.

Given time to heal, and the help of my amazing physiotherapist Tony Snell, I was back on the start line in April for the Harbour to Hills Half Ironman in Napier. I took second place female at this event.  I was to race Xterra Rotorua two weeks later, but the risk to my shoulder so soon after injury meant I left this one of the calendar for 2017.

April pretty much ended the New Zealand triathlon scene with the falling temperatures. From here I moved to a bit of Mountain Biking and raced the Duathlon at the Rotorua 3D Multisport Festival in June, placing 2nd in the 40km MTB, 10km run.

Around this time, I made the decision that I really needed to knuckle down and work on my swim, my poorest discipline. Not racing age-group anymore, I simply couldn’t keep muscling my way through the swim before riding and running my way back through the pack to the podium. In the pro field, if you can’t swim to keep up, then you’re a long way behind right from the start.  So Reece Kennedy came on board as my swim coach.  Over the last 6 months my technique has been changed, my times have dramatically decreased and I can now say that I have developed into a semi-decent swimmer.  I hope to see this improvement continue in 2018. Working on your weaknesses is hard work, but a huge part of it is deciding that you want to make it happen, and from there you can move forward.

Also around this time I started working with Power on the Bike. I have found this to be a really useful tool for benchmarking, consistency and motivation. Being able to calculate and visibly see your improvement has been really motivating for me.

I started looking at international race options mid-year and decided I was going to do Bintan 70.3, Indonesia, in August. This was a new experience for me in many respects.  Firstly was the travel aspect (never travelling outside Aus or NZ on my own), racing in the heat and humidity, and the non-wetsuit swim.  I absolutely loved this new race experience, and was over the moon to take home 5th place and my first professional pay cheque.

I have produced some decent runs this year including 5th at the Wellington Half Marathon, 1:25.10hr (slightly long course), and winning the Hatuma Lime Half Marathon, with a new PR of 1:23:19hr. I also enjoyed racing several events in the Taupo series, taking 2nd place at the Mt Tauhara off-road challenge. In October, I took the women’s win at the Staples Rodway Cape Kidnappers Challenge, 32km off road event.  It has been both pleasing and reassuring seeing improvement across the board in all three disciplines this year.

By November, I was hoping for a successful race at Challenge Shepparton, Australia. Unfortunately I came down with Gastro the week before the race and whilst I felt reasonable by the weekend, my body said otherwise, finishing in 7th place. I learnt a lot at this event about what my body can handle, what I might do in future situations, and to ALWAYS pack a swimskin for when warm water temp enforces non-wetsuit swim.

Taupo 70.3 in December was changed to a duathlon as a result of toxic algae in the lake. The contingency plan changed the race format to a 3km run/90km cycle/21km run. I placed 13th in this race in a very strong field of 18 women. It is not often that the women’s Pro field outnumbers the men’s, so this was awesome for women’s sport.  The 90km bike wasn’t as fast as I would have liked, but I was really pleased with my two run efforts. As an overall race result, I was really quite happy with my time in relation to some of the other pro women. 12 months ago, I was finishing 10-15mins behind some of these girls. Now its only minutes.

One week later, I finished the season with the Rotorua Sufferfest, one tough half ironman. This was a valuable exercise to do to gauge my performance on back to back half distance races.  In a non-elite race, it was back to a mass swim start, extreme congestion on the bike and lots of hills to beat up the legs. I finished in 4th place, happy to know that I can still pull out a reasonable race effort one week on.

I’d like to express my gratitude to my coaches Tony Harding, and Reece Kennedy for their invaluable input, coaching, guidance and friendship this year. Thankyou for continued your support and belief in me.

Huge thankyou’s to my sponsors and supporters who have made my step into Professional sport much easier, I am hugely appreciative. In particular, thankyou to Liv Cycling New Zealand; GU Energy New Zealand; Inov8 New Zealand;  Cranked Cycles and Triathlon;  PGG Wrightsons LTD; Grow Ltd; Blueseventy; Proactive, Hastings;  Vet Associates, Hastings; Swimgym, and Napier Aquatic Centre.

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Ironman 70.3 Bintan

Place: 5th Pro Female

Overall Time: 5:11:43

Swim: 32:57, Bike: 2:40, Run: 1:54

Bintan 70.3 was my first professional Ironman 70.3 race. Situated less than an hour by ferry from Singapore, Bintan is one of Indonesia’s Riau Islands in the South China Sea. Bintan 70.3 was voted in 2016 to have Asia’s best swim and bike courses.

Coming from the cold New Zealand winter, one of the biggest challenges I faced was acclimatisation and heat. Being my  first race experience in hot, humid, tropical conditions, my plan was to swim hard, ride conservatively and arrive at the run with gas left in the tank.

The 1.9km course was a 1-lap, anticlockwise non-wetsuit swim in Lagoi Bay. Shallow waters from low tide meant running and dolphin diving for the first 150m until deep enough to swim. The water visibility was clear with little to see, and was mostly uneventful.  I swam in a group of 3 for the entire swim, exiting the water in 32:57.

The 90km one lap course took us out of the high profile resort areas of Lagoi Bay and into “real” Indonesia. I had police motorbike escort for the majority of the ride. The course was very undulating with lots of short climbs. I paced myself as I was unsure how I would respond to racing in high heat. I found that the fast descents kept me cool, only beginning to feel hot once the sun rose. What I loved most about the course was the changing scenery of lush tropical forest through small villages, bridges and then a coastal stretch back to Lagoi. The course was lined with children and spectators in the villages, cheering, racing you on their bikes and genuinely being excited to be a part of the race. My bike time was 2:40 hr and I arrived in T2 feeling physically good and alert. I had no idea where I was placed during the bike due to the nature of the course, only that I passed Marina in the final km’s coming back into transition.

The first 8km of the run felt reasonably good. I was moving well and I wasn’t significantly bothered by the heat. Aid stations were spaced every 1.5km and at each one I took on fresh ice sponges, fluids and had buckets of water thrown at me. The out and back course identified for me that I was a few k’s down on Amelia, Kate and Anna.  At the 5km mark, I saw Jacqueline with an official, pulling out of the race. I knew then that I was in 5th place and I was still running ok.  From about 8km it all went pear shaped. I began having stomach cramps which affected my pace and focus and by the end of lap 1, I was reduced to spells of walking. I felt sick and couldn’t get my GU blocks down.  The second 10.5km were awful and felt like eternity, but there was no way that I was going to DNF. I just had to keep moving forward, stay in front of Marina and walk for spells to ease the pain. Coach Tony had emailed me in the days before the race, listing all the things that I needed to have done to prepare for this race. The one thing that I had questioned was mental toughness, and I’m pretty sure that this was thrown at me just to see how tough I really was.  I was so incredibly relieved to get across the finish line as 5th place professional female and curl up in a ball in the medical tent until my painkillers kicked it. I am uncertain why I experienced such awful gut distress.

I am very happy with the result. The trip was a great learning experience, I did lots of networking and made new contacts, I enjoyed the race experience and I came home with some money! As a new pro, doubt of my ability does sometimes creep in and this race result has now definitely cemented my ability in my mind.

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Achievement and Reflection

Achievement and Reflection

August last year, looking at my planned race schedule for the upcoming 6 months, I remember thinking “Geez, I hope I’m going to be able to get through all of these events without burying myself”. I think this mind-set stemmed from the previous season, where as a relatively new athlete to the sport, I found that multiple half iron distance races really tired me.

During the past 6 months racing, I have overturned this statement, and on a general basis, I feel really good, fit and strong. My recovery period post-race has become shorter, and my ability to bounce back has quickened. Physically, my performances in both training and racing have improved, and my mental focus has strengthened. Most importantly, my confidence in my ability has deepened, and through this I have become a stronger athlete.

Following the World Championships in September 2016, I have raced half iron distance every month. I had successful age group wins at Challenge Shepparton (AUS) in November, and Taupo 70.3 (NZL), in December. In January this year, I received Professional Endorsement from Triathlon New Zealand and raced the Port of Tauranga Half as Elite, placing 10th with a new personal best of 4:42hr.

Without a doubt, the highlight of my season has been the acknowledgement from Triathlon New Zealand of my ability to race as a professional. It’s a goal I have been working towards for the last couple of years, and achievement is gratifying.

February’s race was Motatapu, Queenstown, my first off road triathlon; half distance equivalent. I love the challenge of off-road terrain and the change of scenery from road racing has kept my motivation levels high.  The addition of Mountain Biking to my training schedule has been quite a lot of fun and something I’m really enjoying.  This race resulted in my first Did Not Finish (DNF) when I crashed 3km from the end of the MTB leg, side-lining me for 5 weeks with an AC joint shoulder injury.

This accident put a bit of a dent in my plans for April’s racing. However, rest followed by physiotherapy saw that I was back at the start line for our local event, the inaugural Harbour to Hills Half Ironman in April. I placed 2nd female overall, and even beat a couple of the fellas who I’ve targeted as benchmarks throughout the season. Perhaps a bit of rest did me good!  Xterra Rotorua was on the line up for the end of April, however sometimes sensibility and risk factor have to take precedence. I decided that the risk of coming off again on the shoulder wasn’t worth it so soon after injury, and so this event will wait until next year.

So as the weather cools and the triathlon scene in AUS and NZL largely moves to non-swimming related events, where to now? My focus over the next few months is to condition my running base, and make further gains in the pool. You will see me lining up at a variety of road and trail running events around New Zealand and I’m looking forward to the cross country season!

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Challenge Shepparton 2016

Challenge Shepparton, 2016

Official Time: 4:51:14
Category Placing: 1st (30-34)
Overall Placing: 11th

Swim 0:33:32, T1 0:02:20, Bike 2:40:26, T2 0:02:18, Run 1:32:36

Challenge Shepparton was my first Challenge Family event. I wasn’t disappointed- it was a great event, well organised and the course was fabulous.

The 1.9km M shaped swim course was held in Lake Victoria.  It is considered one of the most pristine lakes for triathlon in Australia. The water was lovely and clear, and the entire lake bottom was covered in reeds.  There were a lot of stray reeds floating around which kept getting caught on my hands and feet.  The course was long and narrow with three tight turns and several times I crashed into swimmers towards me going the opposite direction.  Being so long, it was also difficult to sight the white buoy on the return to the second turn of the M. Coming out of the water I saw it wasn’t a fast swim time but focused on a quick T1 transition.

The bike course was a 2-lap out and back 90km course which took us through flat eucalyptus lined rural Victoria roads. It was extremely windy with a tough side wind the whole way- slightly tail on the outbound but not enough to give a decent push, and slightly frontal on the return. I found the bike course quite tough as I couldn’t find power in the wind.  I reassured myself to stick to a consistent pace and not push too hard so I still had legs up for the run. The rain struck halfway through the ride which made it quite cold and very slippery. I watched a guy come around the corner just in front of me and completely wipe out sideways across the bitumen. I wasn’t sure where I was positioned but hadn’t seen or passed any girls in my division. It wasn’t until the final turnaround on the second lap that I spotted the girl next to me in transition, ahead with what I calculated as about a good 10km lead. My fingers and toes were completely numb from cold and I was trying to work some movement into them in the final km’s back into transition. In the last stretch back into town I saw the leading girl heading out on the run. My thoughts were that she was too far out to catch her.  Arriving in T2 in 3:16mins, my fingers were useless from cold and I couldn’t undo my helmet.  After several frustrating attempts I had to run to an official to get her to unbuckle the clasp. I then had the same issue with my shoes and socks. Time was going in slow motion and I knew the clock was ticking. T2 cost me several minutes.challenge-shep-screen-dump

On to the run I was relieved to feel that I had my running legs with me. After a disaster run at World Champs two months earlier I knew that this was going to be a good one. They went so easily and felt weightless and I had to check my pace back in the first few k’s. I still had a reasonable amount of energy and thankfully didn’t feel the fatigue creep in until much later in the run. The course was 3 x 7km- loops on firm packed trail through eucalyptus reserve and around the lake. I really enjoyed the multi-lap run; it was stunning scenery in the trees and included bridge crossings, a small area of seal, undulating limestone path and lake pathway. The constant changing scenery meant that mentally the run passed very quickly.  Out of transition I was about 15 minutes down on the lead girl and by the second lap I’d made up about half of that. By the final lap, I was tiring and unsure if I was going to catch her until I spotted her only minutes ahead. The competitive nature in me reappeared and I picked up my pace, taking the lead in the last 1 km. I crossed the line to greet my wonderful dad who had been supporting me the whole time in the wind and pouring rain.  This one was for my dear mum who was unwell and couldn’t make the trip xx

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70.3 Ironman World Championships, Sunshine Coast, Australia, 2016

Division Place: 15th (30-34)

Overall Time: 4:59:10

Swim: 32:24, T1: 3:47, Bike: 2:42:37, T2: 3:08, Run: 1:37:47

My performance expectations leading into this World Championship event were high. I had 8 months of solid training under my belt from the completion of last racing season in March, where I produced consistent podium finishes and sub 4:50hr times in all key events. Over this time, my training workload has increased, my swimming technique has improved and my cycling strength has developed well.  I had several months off running whilst carrying an ITB issue and began running again 6 weeks out from race day.


It was a privilege to race at this event, particularly as it was the first time it had been held in the southern hemisphere, in my home country of Australia. It allowed for my family and parents to be there for the event. As much as I tried to shake the nerves, I was anxious for the week leading up to race.

The city of Mooloolaba was well and truly taken over by triathletes and triathlete supporters. I found the weather quite comfortable; muggy but not overly hot, although quite windy. Prior to race day there were strong onshore winds making the sea rough. It made for turbulent swimming and poor sighting and I was worried about the swim conditions on the day if the wind didn’t change direction.

Race day dawned and I was relieved that the sea had finally calmed. There was little wind and the forecast was for 24 degrees.

My age group (30-34) start was not until 7:55am so we had a 2 hour wait between transition closing and my race start. I was competing against a field of 173 women from 85 different countries around the world. The swim was relatively clean and well mannered; I experienced very little interference. I felt that I swam well but was slightly disappointed to complete the swim in 32 minutes, exiting the water in 62nd position.

The 90km bike leg started with a gentle climb out of transition followed by 40km of an out and back section of flat, fast motorway. The wind had picked up since our wave start and by the 23km turnaround a blustery headwind presented itself, slowing my pace on the bike. The second half of the course took us into stunning Hinterland, with eucalyptus lined rural roads and undulating hill country. This section of the course involved a multi lap loop, with one long steep climb on the first lap which I saw many get off and walk up. By this point the road was congested with earlier wave starts which made for messy race conditions.

I finished the cycle leg in 16th position. Although my mind was still fresh, my legs and energy levels said differently and I knew that I had my work cut out for me on the run.  The run course was a 2-lap flat course with four climbs, the first being 1 km into the run.  By the 5km mark, I was struggling to hold pace and by round 10 km my mind set began to change from finishing strongly, to just finishing.  This part of the race is always the most mentally challenging, and when the sun gets hot, the fatigue starts to kick in and your legs start to scream at you it takes the power of your mind to pull you through. I didn’t finish my race as strongly as I wanted to, or placed as high as I’d hoped to, but in the conditions on the day, I gave what I had in the tank and that is all you can do.  Following the event, I’ve been analysing what went wrong. Perhaps I’m just not race fit, maybe it was the two months off running? Did I push too hard on the bike? The lack of open water swimming during our winter? I don’t have the answer but I do have a renewed focus now to redeem myself to the level I know I am capable of achieving at Challenge Shepparton in 8 weeks time. Onwards and upwards.


Waiwhare Fun Run/Walk Fundraiser


MAY 22nd 2016, 10am Start

Fundraiser for Karen Toulmin for the 70.3, Long Distance Triathlon World Champs, September 2016

Location: Waiwhare Community Centre, Corner of River and Taihape Rd, Waiwhare

5km RUN/WALK- $10, easy road and farm track.

10km RUN -$15, road, farm track and some steep undulating farmland. A reasonable level of fitness recommended.

Children’s Fun Run -11:30am, Prize-giving- 12pm

BBQ and catering available, sorry no eftpos

Online Entries and info at Tridentresults.com.

Late entries available on the day. Event held rain or shine.

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Geelong 70.3, 2016

Gender place: 27th

Division place: 3rd (30-34)

Overall time: 4:49:32

Swim: 33:33, T1: 2:41, Bike: 2:38:17, T2: 1:50 Run: 1:33:12.

Racing in Geelong was combined with a trip back to my hometown, Mount Gambier, South Australia. This race was really special to me as my parents could finally watch me racing triathlon for the first time.

We arrived in Geelong two days prior to the race. The weather was forecast to be a glorious 28 degrees which suited me just fine. I was very grateful I wasn’t going to be racing in typical Australian summer 35+ degree heat!

Race morning I was feeling very nervous. The event was massive in terms of competitor numbers and I was unsure how I would rank against a whole new field of different women.

My swim start was scheduled for 7:16, slightly later than I’d been racing in previous events. The advantage to this was that the sun was a little higher in the sky and as a result there was minimal sun glare and better visibility. The race commenced with a running beach start into a flat sea. I experienced very little interference for the majority of the swim course.  On exit, the sea bed was very muddy and dug out making it hard to run out of the water. Into transition I was happy to see that there were still quite a few bikes in my divisional area.geelong race report feature image

The 90km, 2 lap cycle began with a long gradual ascent out of transition which continued into undulating hills for the first 3-4km. The course took us out to rural Geelong where it then became mostly flat, apart from one area of small climbs. My legs felt heavy for most of the first lap and a moderate side wind prevailed in exposed areas. I concentrated on eating and drinking to try and restore my energy levels and by the second lap I was feeling stronger. I passed quite a few women in my division early on the first lap. By lap 2, I had worked out that there were about 6-7 women in front of me by counting them at each of the turnarounds. I struggled to close any of the gap over the last 45km and knew I was going to have my work cut out for me on the run.

I felt really good off the bike, very alert and I was extremely happy that my legs were present and ready to go. For the first 5km my pace right on the 4:00/km mark, I felt good and relaxed so I just went with it. The run course was varied and undulating and I liked that it took in so many different areas and things to look at. I had my family on the sidelines supporting me and my mum snapping as many photos as she could get. The crowd support was enormous and really encouraging. The first few km’s of the 2.5 lap run course were hilly streets lined with spectators, followed by boardwalk over the water’s edge. Heading back through the main spectating area, out and around a wharf, we then ran over sandstone footpath into steeper reserve before coming back through the main spectating area to complete the lap. I caught two women in my division in the first couple of km’s and by the second lap could see that I was about 500m off a woman in pink and two or three others in front of her. The girls in front were running well and I felt like I wasn’t making much ground on them. I had to keep telling myself to try and maintain my 4:15-4:20/km which I had slowed to and to remain consistent. It paid off and by halfway through the second lap I caught the pink girl and by the last 5 km I had the next.  I had no idea how close I was to the girl in second place until I saw her entering the finishing chute ahead of me.  I chased her full throttle into the finishing chute but unfortunately missed her by 4 seconds. 3rd place and very happy with my performance.


Port Of Tauranga Half 2016-New Zealand National Championships

Gender Place: 8

Division Place: 1st (30-34)

Overall Time: 4:45:32

Swim: 33:05, T1: 1:22, Bike: 2:34:23, T2: 1:07, Run: 1:35:36

We travelled to Tauranga early on Friday morning, the day before the race. We arrived to horrible gale force winds and torrential rain. Competitors had their fingers crossed that the forecast was right and it would clear overnight. I was feeling very relaxed about the event, and had felt much like the week leading up to the race. For some reason I just wasn’t getting worked up and anxious about it as I usually do. I look at this as a good thing as I wasn’t wasting energy on anxiety and pre-race jitters.

We were staying with my brother-in-law in Papamoa which was much more preferable to a motel, however I found it a little too far from event headquarters for my liking. We spent a lot of time travelling back and forth which was frustrating and tiring. I made a mental note to stay as close to transition as possible at future events.

Registration opened at 4 pm and we headed back into the Mount in the pouring rain to the Ocean Sports Club. Bless my husband Michael for waiting under a brolly in the rain with my bike while I registered to avoid having to return to the car and retrieve it! The committee announced that due to the weather conditions bikes could be either racked then, or the following morning. I made the decision to rack then and had my bike bars cable tied to the rack so it wouldn’t move in the wind. Registration done, bike racked, I felt content.

Pre-race dinner was a big feed of spaghetti bolognaise, followed by an early night to bed.

Up at 4:30am, I had my standard 4 x Weetbix, yoghurt and coffee. Kit on, bags packed and out of the house at 4:50am for the 20 minute drive into transition. I was feeling alert and focused.

At transition I was body marked, carefully prepared my area and checked and dried tyres before mentally completed a final transition map. I put my wetsuit on, dropped my bag in bag drop and headed to the swim start. The water was open for warm up and as I only had 20 minutes before my race wave I made the decision to have a five minute warm up swim. The water was a warm 20 degrees. I had a GU gel. I must have somehow smeared some of my 50+ zinc on the inside of my goggles. That was a mistake as I had semi-foggish goggles even before the swim start which was frustrating. The swim started in a mass all Female AG deep water start at 6:24. There was a light chop to the sea. I went out strongly for the first 200m and managed to get some space early on. That quickly changed at the first buoy where it turned into a bit of a washing machine. Along the back straight it became quite congested and twice I made the decision to put in a short fast burst and break through the swim groups. Several times I had my legs intentionally grabbed and pulled so I kicked out at the culprits. I have no respect for those who choose to do that.

By the end of the rear straight I had clear water around me however at the turn around to head back I lost vision. The sun was just coming up and I couldn’t see a thing in front of me. I had to use other swimmers, and the beach out to my left as a guide as to where we were heading. Big learning curve to invest in mirror goggles. I exited the swim in 33mins and was pleased with my time. Transition to the bike went reasonably smoothly although my wetsuit got a little stuck on my ankles.

Karen Toulmin_ TaurangaOn to the bike, I was riding at a consistent 37-42km/hr pace until the turn around at Papamoa. Until this point I’d credited the fast pace to the smooth, flat course. I didn’t realise how much tailwind was behind me until the turnaround. Pace on the return trip averaged 30-31km/hr. By halfway back I was starting to feel a bit tired and wondering if I needed to back it off slightly so I wasn’t a wreck by the end of the bike. Instead, I decided to keep pushing until the start of the second lap where I then could back it off a bit and use the tailwind back out to give me a bit of a rest. I satisfied my carbohydrate requirements (50-60g/hour) on the bike with 2 x bottles Horleys sports drink and one Em’s power cookie bar. By the second lap I was feeling better and passing a lot of people.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to perform on the run. My left calf was feeling a bit tight and I was starting to tire. My coach’s directions are to maintain my pace 4:15-4:20 mins/per km so I don’t blow up. I began feeling good, running at around 4:00-4:08/km pace. Too fast, but it felt so light and easy that I just followed the feeling. I slowly dropped the pace after around the 2km mark but maintained the directed. I was feeling slightly more fatigued than I had hoped on the first lap of the run and by the time I reached the base of the mountain track I was relieved for the distraction of the sea and forest, rather than the hot footpath. The track was quite undulating and so pace varied up and down the track. I was reasonably confident that I was in a leading AG position based on the amount ofwomen I passed on the bike and the lack of age groupers I had seen on the run. I was aware of one girl in my division who was around 300-400m behind me. After passing her on my way back from the second lap turn around I noticed she had dropped back further. This was a relief as I was tired, struggling a bit and trying to push the negative thoughts of quitting out of my head. I consumed two GU gels over the course, taking them when I felt my energy levels were dropping and I responded well to them. I didn’t enjoy the run, it was hard, I was hot and my feet had blisters. I was feeling a bit emotional from fatigue and trying not to let myself start blubbering. I made myself focus on counting down the kms and sustaining my pace even though my legs and gleuts were hurting. I didn’t have the energy left to sprint my last couple of hundred meters down the finish shoot as I usually try to do. I finished, thoroughly relieved to be able to stop. I won my age group (New Zealand 30-34 National Champion) and I came 8th women overall. I beat a few pro women and was only minutes of others. I am happy with my performances on the three disciplines and reinforced the confidence in my ability to again pull out a sub 4:50hr time. I found the course challenging and harder than I expected and had I not felt so fatigued I may have enjoyed it more.


Taupo 70.3, 2016

Gender Place: 13

Division Place: 1st (30-34)

Overall Time: 4:49:13

Swim: 35:56, T1: 03:45, Bike: 2:35:17, T2: 1:13, Run: 1:33:02

The week leading up to Taupo I was a bit of a nervous wreck with the anxiety getting to me. I went into the race not allowing myself to think about expectations or how I was going to go. The plan was to take it one step at a time, be calm and not go out too fast on the run.

I woke up to a calm morning with little wind and misty rain.

The swim in Lake Taupo went smoothly without much jostling in the water. I was a little surprised at my swim time- It felt like I was swimming much stronger than my watch suggested. Out of the water, I boosted it up the 400m run to transition. Transition went smoothly and I was out on the bike, clean and feeling fresh.

The bike leg out to the settlement of Reperoa was reasonably quick. I used this time to fuel on my Horleys and Ems’ power cookie bars. I set a consistent pace and the lack of wind was conducive to a fast bike leg. At the 70km mark I was still feeling good and could foresee a relatively quick bike time. Coming back into Taupo town was an amazing feeling, I was grinning ear to ear because I knew I had ridden the 90km in just over 2:30hr. The fastest I have ridden that distance yet! In transition I could only see two other bikes racked in my area, so I knew I was in a good position. I wasn’t aware at that point of a late entrant who had her bike racked at a different location. My legs felt great going out onto the run and I managed to settle at a consistent 4:11-4:17/km pace. By the end of the first lap, I had passed one girl and one had dropped out. The crowd support was amazing, particularly from our local club, Triathlon Hawke’s Bay and my family. I managed to catch the last girl at the 15km turn around and by then I knew I was leading my division. Coming back into the finish line was such an unreal feeling. I sprinted the last 200m across the line and could not get the grin off my face at my time. 4:49!!!! New PB and I won my division. Which also meant that I had secured myself a position at the 2016 70.3 World Long Distance Championships! I was crazy with excitement; the adrenaline took quite some time to wear off. I had completed the same course the previous year, in similar conditions, a whopping 43 minutes faster.


Port Macquarie 70.3, 2015

Gender Place: 28th

Division Place: 6th (30-34)

Overall Time: 5:07:28

Swim: 32:21 T1: 01:45, Bike: 2:52:12 T2: 01:04, Run: 1:40:06


Port Macquarie was my first triathlon race in Australia.

I’d spent the winter racing duathlons, running half marathons and slogging out long hours training. I was feeling fit and had high expectations of myself.

I was very thankful to have good friend and training partner Tracey Chatterton racing the event with me. We experienced a slightly stressful journey there, with flight several delays and arrived a day later than expected.

Once we arrived, our first job was reassembling our deconstructed bikes. We were both very relieved to see they had arrived unscathed. Our accommodation was slightly further away than we had anticipated and with no vehicle transport we did a little more riding than we would have liked. That afternoon, we rode to the supermarket and back, to the bike shop for checks and back, to registration and back. In hindsight, I think this impacted my race performance slightly. We had a lovely refreshing 30 min swim in the channel where the swim was held.

The following day we completed a light training session and then rode down to bike check in. We were very thankful to my friends Rach and Glen Leman, who then dropped us back to our apartment and continued over the rest of the weekend to assist us with transport. That afternoon Rach took us for a drive over some of the hilly sections of the bike course. We spent the afternoon watching movies on the couch, ate spaghetti bolognaise for the second night in a row, and then had an early night to bed.

Up at 4:30am, I chowed down weetbix and coffee. We arrived at transition, prepared our areas and headed to the swim start. It was a lovely warm morning and wetsuits were optional. The channel was calm, with a commencing incoming tide so the swim was a tail current down river and head current back to transition. I had a fantastic swim, the water was clear and I felt great. On the return leg, the water became very shallow in parts and people around me were standing up and running through the water. I shortened my arm extension and continued to swim over the sandbar. I was very pleased with my 32 minute swim time.

The bike leg was a bit of a shock. It was a 2 lap course and the roads were terrible, patched and rough. The roads were littered with bottles and bike accessories which had rattled off other people’s bikes. Although the hills weren’t particularly high, they were long and gradual. There was one hill that whilst not overly long, perhaps 100m in length, was almost vertical. In response to how steep it was, carpet had been layed on the road to enable athletes to dismount and walk up if required. I refused to walk. The first time was tough and I remember wondering how on earth I was going to get up there a second time. It was a struggle! Both times I had to stand, in my lowest gear and just about jump on my pedals to force my wheels forward. I remember it taking at least 200m once at the top to regain my breath and legs.

I was tired and fatigued by the end of the bike leg. I had consumed a lot of water and electrolyte but had failed to get through my two Em’s power cookie bars as I felt sick. I under-fuelled, only consuming around 50g of carbohydrate for the entire bike leg.

I arrived at T2 in 3:26hr, meaning that if I ran as I expected, I might finish in less than 5 hours. I had been running 1:25hr half marathons during winter and thought I’d be able to pull this off in a race. This was quite a learning curve for me as I soon found out that running fast on shot legs and fatigued body is incredibly hard. My instructions were to run at 4:10-4:15 mins/km for the first 10km, and then if I had anything left for the second half to put some speed on. The minute I left transition running, I knew I was in trouble. My legs felt like lead, the temperature had risen to 29 degrees and the elation I was feeling coming into transition soon turned to despair. The first 5km of the run I was struggling to even make 4:20-4:30/km and my pace disintegrated from there. The road was hot and there was little shade along the 2 lap run course. I was drinking at every aid station to keep myself cool and hydrated and I consumed 2x gels over the course of the run. One lone hill decided to include itself in the race at around the 7km, and 18km mark and both times I walked it. I was a right mess by lap 2 and had to pull on all my inner strength to will my legs to go, and to keep my head in check. I managed to maintain an average 4:40mins/km for the remainder of the course and crossed the finish line in a time of 5:07hr. I placed 6th in my age group. I was incredibly happy with my swim, considering I had just taken 9 minutes of my swim time from the previous year! This race provided me with several learning experiences and I have to remind myself that I am still a very inexperienced at this distance.

  1. Too much solid food does not appear to work for me during races. I need to look at sports drink options;
  2. Avoid too much activity in the days pre-race;
  3. Don’t get ahead of myself. The race is finished once I cross the finish line, don’t be presumptive.