From Beginner TriChicks Course to World 70.3 Championships

race report

Hands up if you’ve ever been in a situation where you stop and think ‘what the actual shit am I doing here?’ Throwback to race day morning and both my hands would’ve been in the air… probably along with both my feet too.


It was 5:45 am and I was having a nervous squeal on the phone to Coach Amy because I thought the whole thing was ridiculous.


Two years ago I hadn’t even started the Beginner TriChicks Course and somehow I was about to race in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa. WTF. 



The lead-up to race day for me was somewhat unconventional, but I sure did learn a lot from it.


After finishing Ironman Busso 70.3 in May I had a week and a bit off before flying to Nepal to do the Everest Base Camp Hike.


I arrived back in June and got straight into training for South Africa.


That month off was the longest break I’d had since starting TriChicks, and even though I felt like I needed it, dealing with the lack of fitness after returning home was tough!


For anyone who doesn’t believe the whole ‘lack of fitness’ thing, just ask fellow TriChick Annabel Rothfield - she got a lot of joy out of seeing me struggle so much.


The next three months went a little something like this: home from Nepal → jetlag → spend four weeks trying to get my fitness back → start working more hours (which I loved, but it was a change) → go to England → jet lag → come home from England →  jet lag → get sick for a week → fly to South Africa → jet lag → race day!


Oh and throw in my running injury which I was still slowly recovering from, finding out that my iron levels were low AF, and Taryn (from Dietitian Approved - she’s a total legend) was trying to put me on a no-chocolate diet. I was one big hot mess the week before I flew out! 


I would like to think that I was calm and composed, but to be honest, there were a lot of tears that went on behind the scenes of this one.


Sometimes because I was stressed about the less-than-ideal build I was having, but mostly because I felt that I was totally and completely not good enough to be going.


About six weeks out from race day I got dropped at cycling intervals and then turned up to the track that night where I had to walk/run on the grass, while everyone else was smashing it on the track around me.


I felt deflated, overwhelmed and self-conscious. I thought that everyone would be looking at me and thinking ‘how the hell did this chick get to world champs — she can’t even keep up at training?!’ I didn’t feel fit, or strong or ready in any sense. I was nervous about going by myself. It felt too big, like too much of a challenge for someone like me.


Cue Super Coach Amy, who true to her name gave me all of the pep talks I needed to help me pull my head together. She took all the pressure off and made sure I realised that this race was about enjoying, soaking up and learning from the experience.


Knowing that I wasn’t going to disappoint her if I didn’t get a specific time made a big difference and from the second that I stepped foot in South Africa, I had the absolute time of my life! 


The days in Port Elizabeth before the race were filled with spotting the pros, meeting other athletes and just being in awe of every single thing I saw. I thought the whole thing was just so cool — I can’t describe how much I loved it. 



When I arrived at the race that morning and saw the swim course, it hit me just how far 1.9 km is! It was definitely intimidating but the buoys were every 200m so I planned to mentally break it up that way. 


It was a rolling swim start, which meant we set off in groups of 10 every 15 seconds.


As a weaker swimmer, I was a HUGE fan of this! It’s less intimidating and gives you a way better chance at a good start as you’ve got heaps of space and fewer limbs to deal with.


Weirdly, it was probably the most relaxed I have ever been at a swim start. Yes, I was still nervous but I was just standing there very aware of how bloody lucky I was. 


A quick high five with the girls beside me and we were off! For the first 800m, I was pretty much by myself, people were going by too quick for me to get on their feet, but as I passed each buoy I would have a little internal celebration (lol I am so lame). As I hit the first turn buoy at 800m I looked down and saw two divers underneath it (stay tuned for more deets on these dudes later). 


In my race plan, I had set my goal at 40 minutes but thought this may have been a bit unrealistic. However, I actually felt like I was doing an alright job this time! I thought my strokes were staying strong, I was moving in a straight line and for the first time ever I didn’t stop to look behind me and see if I was coming last (yes I have done that in every race I have ever done).


Normally I don’t check my watch as I exit the swim, but this time I was curious to see how I had done. Glancing down, my watch read 34 minutes and I almost fell over! All I wanted to do was pause the race and give Amy a call because I knew she would be just as excited as I was.


Transition One

It’s easy to pick the rookie that has never been at an event like this before because I thought the transition was awesome. It was set out like this:

Swim exit → Wetsuit strippers → Bag compound → Change area → Bag drop off → Bike

After finding my bag, I tipped everything out, re-packed it with my swim stuff, then helmet on, sunnies on, and nutrition in my back pockets and then I went to put my shoes on but accidentally pulled the entire cord in my cleats out, so spent the next 30 seconds twisting the knob to tighten them back up — karma for choosing impractical shoes just cos they’re pink (hehe no regrets).



The bike leg was the part I was most nervous about. Normally it’s my favourite part of the tri, but ever since Busso I just haven’t felt good on the bike.


It was extremely frustrating to feel so weak so consistently, however, it did teach me a thing or two about mental strength.


Leading up to race day I knew that if I had to, I could definitely survive 90 kms even if I felt shit every single minute of it. I had done it at training on long solo rides and even though I was hoping for a miracle, I knew I had it in me to get through whatever I needed to. 


The course was one 90 km loop, with four aid stations and we had to ride on the right side of the lane instead of the left.


Heading out of transition we were immediately climbing, with a headwind on a pretty bumpy road. I was going nowhere fast, and realised very quickly that my legs were going to behave the way they had in 98% of training sessions in the past few months (ie. not well).


Anyway, moving on! My word for the day was ‘patience’ so I didn’t get frustrated at the slow speed I started off at and mentally ticked off the course in 10 km blocks. After speaking to a lot of people post-race, it was nice to hear that everyone else had felt the same way! It was an honest course, and most people were at least 10 minutes off their standard bike times for that distance.


The majority of the course was stunning. Particularly once we were down along the coastline, with either ocean views or huge dunes by our side. I was focused on trying to stick to my nutrition plan and keeping a smile on my dial! It was hard, but I knew I had all of the girls back home cheering me on, and notes that made me smile stuck all over my bike! 


For the last chunk of the ride, I knew I wasn’t going to get in under three hours unless I started averaging 45 km/h for the rest of the way — unlikely. At this point, I switched my watch over to T2, as I was mentally moving onto the run. I wasn’t going to let the challenging bike leg get in my way of having a run I was proud of! 


Of course, it would’ve been nice to get off my bike in T2 stoked with a time I considered speedy.


However, it really would’ve been nothing more than a bit of an ego boost. Instead, I learnt a hell of a lot from getting through a tough ride and I was actually really proud of myself!


I’m very new to the sport, I love it and I reckon lessons like that one will help me get faster and stronger in the future. YES, Kelly Clarkson’s “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” was on my pre-race playlist and YES it was the last thing I listened to that morning #vibes.


And besides, the entry fee was bloody expensive, may as well get my money’s worth and stretch out that time on course! 


Transition Two

If ever there was a time I was excited for a bike catcher, it was this day! I was ready to launch that thing at the closest volunteer by the time I rolled into transition.


Had a minor hiccup here as my transition bag had been moved and therefore my runners were momentarily MIA, but with the help of a few volunteers (legends) we found them and I was on my way.



Look, it’s no secret that I haven’t had the most successful run legs in the past.


My strategy has always been to go as hard as I could for as long as I could, which resulted in pushing way too hard at the beginning and completely bonking.


This time around I was aiming for a consistent and steady run ending in a finish line pic that involved a smile and me standing upright (*spoiler alert* - it happened). 


The run was a two lap course with hills at each end and was jam-packed full of spectators the entire way.


Amy and I had set my goal pace at 5:10-5:15mins/km, the plan was to stick to that for as long as I could, and to pick it up for the last 3kms if I had anything left! From the get-go my legs felt really heavy, I definitely wasn’t having to stop myself from going out too hard, I felt really sluggish! I didn’t freak out though and had Amy’s voice in my head telling me to relax, be patient - my legs will come. 


As I ticked off each km I had a chance to actually enjoy the atmosphere, something I haven’t been able to do much in the past. I got a bit emosh a couple of times and coming into the finish chute I had to remind myself to pull it together because I didn’t want a finish line pic that included tears! 


My watch decided that this was the day to go completely AWOL, telling me I was doing 16 mins/km and it took me a while to realise that this was wrong, I felt slow but surely not thaaaaat slow! Because of this, I wasn’t able to track my pace or see if I was sticking to the plan, I just had to go by feel.


I was extremely surprised but ended up with a run time of 1 hour and 50 mins, I was over the moon!


This was a 3 minute PB from my run in Busso and I was able to finish standing on two feet!


I learnt a lot from that result. Having a controlled approach and exercising some patience resulted in a faster time than when I was smashing myself from the start.


Throughout the 21.1kms, my fastest split was 4:49 mins/km and my slowest was 5:26 mins/km. I was so excited that I was able to execute the plan Amy and I had spoken about running by feel, and didn’t need to rely on a Garmin to get me there. 


The Finish

Running down the red carpet towards that finish line was THE BEST!


Even though I didn’t know a single person on the sideline I high fived them all and Paul Kaye on the carpet too!


After running under the arch, I burst into (happy) tears, was handed the biggest medal I’ve ever seen and was helped along by the nicest volunteers ever (seriously, they were amazing) AND, to my absolute delight, the first thing I was given when I entered the recovery area was chocolate ice cream — they obviously knew I was coming!


All I wanted to do when I finished was speak to Amy. I managed the fastest power walk I could muster back to the wifi zone to FaceTime my Super Coach who, even though hadn’t been physically with me in South Africa, I felt like I could hear her all day long! It was only after chatting to her that I found out my times for everything and that I had actually finished with a run PB! I was stoked!



If you had told me two years ago, or even one year ago that I would one day cross the finish line of the 70.3 World Championships, and then head off to the ITU World Champs a week later, I would’ve fallen off my seriously rusty bike in a fit of laughter, and I’m sure everyone else around me would have too.


None of this would have happened without my TriChicks Tribe. I come to training because I love it, and I love it because of the people I’m surrounded by. Thank you all for being the best, I feel very lucky to be one of you!


Oh and about those divers...

Back to my comment about the divers under the buoys.


Amy has since informed me that those guys were there to distract the nesting hammerhead sharks that were lurking on the swim course.


Right. I was unaware of this when two days post-race I thought it would be a good idea to go for a lil recovery dip…. by myself… in the ocean at 5:30 pm in the afternoon.


Floating around on my back thinking about how blessed I was to be there….. I COULD HAVE BEEN PREGNANT SHARK BAIT (omg).


I hope you enjoyed my recap of my first World Championships. 


Want to receive triathlon coaching catered to your fitness, experience, and goals? Receive all the tools, tactics, and training sessions to unlock your athletics potential & achieve your most successful season. Take the TriChicks Quiz to see which program is for you. 

Take the Quiz!

Find out which triathlon program is right for you! 



Help! Which Bike Should i get?

Aug 13, 2023

My Running Journey: From 2km To Half Ironman

Feb 16, 2023

Can I really do a triathlon?

Feb 16, 2023