Rutland triathletes Zoe Smith and Roger Canham and Stamford’s Paul Cowling have taken on and conquered one of the world’s most testing and gruelling endurance events, the Kona Ironman.
Rutland Running and Triathlon Club athletes Smith and Canham, along with Cowling were in action at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on Saturday.
The Ironman World Championship is the pinnacle and most iconic of triathlons and competitors must qualify for entry.
All three had achieved that at the Ironman UK event held in Bolton back in July.
Since then all three of them have been hard at training in preparation for the World Championships and were amongst the top 2187 ironman triathletes in the world at the start line.
Both competitors had to battle a rough-water swim, high temperatures and strong winds in order to complete the gruelling challenge which many commentators stated were the toughest conditions for a long time.
On top of that Smith, who is a coach for Rutland Running and Triathlon Club and is in turn coached by Canham, developed a cold the day before the race and should really have not started.
However she wasn’t going to go all that way and not give it a shot.
The first discipline of the race involved a 2.4 mile swim in the sea around Kailua Bay in the Pacific Ocean. Due to the strong winds, the water was choppy and difficult to negotiate.
Cowling completed the swim in 01:03:03, Canham in 01:13:14 whilst Smith was not far behind in 01:22:04.
After transitioning from the water, it was onto the bike for a gruelling 112 mile cycle ride.
The route took them along the Hawaiian coastline through lava fields whilst all the time contending with high temperatures, strong side winds and long hills.
Again Cowling, 29, was the first home in 05:17:00 just ahead of Canhan who completed the second discipline in 05:17:48 whilst the tough conditions meant Smith had to dig deep to finish two hours later in a time 07:25:47
From the bike the final challenge was a full 26.2 mile marathon.
Incredibly Canham completed this in a fantastic time of 03:15:33, a time most marathoners would dream of let alone after completing the previous swim and bike ride.
Cowling was not far behind in 03:37:40. Smith also ran well and finished the run in a time of 04:19:17.
Canham’s great run saw him home first, finishing in an amazing 341st position, eighth in his category, in a total time of 09:53:48. Cowling was 475th in 10:07:52, to come 55th in his category.
Smith was the 434th woman home and 67th in her category, in a total time of 13:20:11 .
Smith said: “No I didn’t get the result I was hoping for but I still had one of the best days ever.
“The conditions on the course demand huge respect and when you’re not 100 percent fit it finds you out.
“So, you guessed it, my aim is to return to finish some unfinished business.”
The men’s elite race was won by German Sebastian Kienle in an overall time of 08:14;18. The women’s elite race was won by Australian Mirinda Carfrae who took her third title.