Too bad you can’t get fast by osmosis. On Sunday I met 4 time Ironman Kona world champion Chrissie Wellington and when I got in the pool on Monday morning surprisingly my 100s didn’t shrink to 1:05. However, it was quite inspiring to meet someone who has gained so much success so quickly in a sport that was so new to her when she began. Even if just a little bit of her determination rubbed off on me, I’d be happy.
Chrissie Wellington’s Amazing Career
Chrissie has a pretty incredible story. Her first triathlon was in May of 2004 and she finished third. Soon after, she took a hiatus from triathlon to go to Nepal as part of her work. While in Nepal, she mountain biked and ran daily. Her coach later commented that her training at altitude (4430 feet) has probably aided in her success in the sport. In 2006 she began racing in triathlon again and won her first Olympic Triathlon back which then qualified her to enter the ITU (Amateur) World Championships. She won this race (of course) which encouraged her to turn pro. In January of 2007 she hired a coach, quit her job and focused on her professional triathlete career.
Despite beginning her career in triathlon racing shorter distances, she entered Ironman Korea that year and was the first place female finisher, beating the second place contender by 50 minutes and placing 7th overall. With this win, she qualified herself for her first Ironman World Championship in Kona. And we know the end of this story – Chrissie won at Kona by five minutes and set a 2:59:58 marathon, which is the 2nd fastest that any woman has ever run it. Her victory was described as the “biggest upset in Ironman Hawaii history”, “a remarkable feat, deemed to be a near impossible task for any athlete racing as a rookie at their first Ironman World Championships” and “one of the biggest shocks in the sport’s history” (source).
Since entering the world of triathlon in 2007, she has taken it by storm. She remains undefeated at the Ironman distance and has won four Kona World Championships (she did not race in 2010 due to an injury). Basically, Chrissie Wellington is one of the most incredible female athletes that has ever lived.
Meeting the Champ!
Nytro, our local bike shop, and also the bike shop where I purchased by lovely P2, held an event on Sunday from 4-5 pm where you could come and wine and dine and schmooze with a pro triathlete. Basically, there was a table with wine and cheese and crackers near a very long line to meet Chrissie, who was not wining and dining herself, but rather standing behind a table loaded with ready-to-be-signed pictures while she shook hand after hand and signed autograph after autograph.
On our walk to the bike shop (we live only 1/2 a mile away!), we were joking about all the things we would ask her. I didn’t know what to expect and was almost imagining it being more of a mingling situation where we’d have to awkwardly approach this Ironman Great and ask her questions. Some ridiculous questions we came up with to ask Chrissie were:
- What is your V02 Max?
- Do you run in Newtons?
- Do you actually like your Cannondale Slice (since she is paid to ride it now by Cannondale) or do you prefer your old P2?
- What’s your swim base?
Instead, after 20 minutes of waiting, we shook her hand, told her our names, told her we were training for CdA, waited while she autographed her photograph, and took a picture with her. She was really warm, friendly and nice and although she didn’t know how to spell Coeur D’Alene (really who does know how?), overall we had a very positive impression of her.
For now, Chrissie has no upcoming races as she announced in February that she is taking a break from Ironman. I hope that she returns, but if not, she went out with a bang. You might as well have your last race as a pro triathlete be your 4th World Championship. Either way, Chrissie will always be an inspiration to me.
Do you have a pro athlete that you look up to? If you follow triathlon – who do you think will win Kona this year since Chrissie won’t be racing!?