IRONMAN Champion, Laura Siddall

by: Matt Dixon

After a string of second places this season, purplepatch professional, Laura Siddall, broke the tape at IRONMAN Australia to win her first title over the distance. The smile on her face as she crossed the finish line said it all... joy and relief that she had earned her first IRONMAN title.

Laura’s journey from amateur to professional triathlete is interesting, and not atypical of what most professionals might expect. Having won four world titles as an amateur triathlete, across every distance from sprint to half-ironman, the transition to the pro ranks has been a learning curve for Laura over the past three seasons. The lessons span the physical, emotional and even practical, and it’s a credit to Laura’s tenacity that she has persevered and absorbed the lessons every step of the way.

In Laura’s words, “I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet and I keep trying to relive the final moments running down the finish chute.”

Laura went into IRONMAN Australia as the pre-race favorite, which was a new position for her, but testament to the tremendous success she’s experienced in 2017. “I was happy that I stuck with my own race plan and stayed pretty internal,” she says, “given the distractions and chatter leading into the race.”

Also racing IRONMAN Australia this past weekend, was Tim Reed, seeking to defend the title he won there a year ago. Tim completed the swim and bike alongside David Dellow, last year’s second place finisher, with the 2016 3rd place finisher, Clayton Fettell, already up the road with race best swim and bike splits. Feeling fitter and in better shape than 12 months ago, Tim decided to experiment with a more aggressive pacing strategy on the run, both to reel in Fettell and to shake off Dellow. Just before halfway through the run, Tim experienced quad cramps, and had to slow his pace, allowing Dellow to push on for the win, and leaving Tim to fight home for a highly creditable 2nd place. It speaks a lot to Tim’s character and his desire to evolve as a racer that he was willing to take a risk on the run, rather than play it safe.

The IRONMAN 70.3 North American Pro Championships also took place this past weekend in St. George, Utah, with several purplepatch athletes racing. The race marked the professional debut for Cecilia Davis-Hayes, a former bike racer that completed her first triathlon just two years ago. The advice to Cecilia heading into this race was to stay calm and pretend that she was racing “Teddy Bears”, rather than being in the midst of a strong professional field.

New to triathlon, the swim is still a work in progress for Cecilia, and 11th place out of the water demonstrated that the hard work in the pool is paying off. As her season gets underway, she should continue to see improvements as she gains more race experience and confidence in the open water. Once on the bike, Cecilia used her strong cycling background to chase down quite a few women, moving up to 7th place in T2. “ In the amateur field, I rarely had the opportunity to race anyone close to my speed on the bike,” she explains, “so it was a fun challenge to chase girls who were much harder (or impossible!) to catch.” Cecilia slipped back a place on the run to finish in 8th place overall at a highly competitive event in her first professional race. That’s a very pleasing start to Cecilia’s professional career and there is much more to come as she gains experience and greater familiarity with the 70.3 distance in 2017.

On the men’s side at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George, Sam Appleton finished in 9th place while Kevin Collington ended his race after the bike. Sam and Tim each get to put this race in the rear view mirror as they prepare to test themselves again this coming weekend in Santa Rosa and Monterrey respectively. 

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Photo credit: witsup.com