2018 Ironman World Champion!

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Words can hardly describe how it felt to finally push myself along the finish chute at the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii, with Mike Reilly announcing my name to the huge crowds, ‘Liz McTernan, you are an Ironman!’ Then to be greeted by my daughter Rebecca, running up the carpeted ramp to kiss & hug me and present me with my shell Lei, was a very special moment in my life.

It’s not my first Ironman of course, having already attempted to finish this iconic race in 2017, and then going on only six weeks later, to complete my first full Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico- just to prove to myself that I could do it. Another long year of tough training, another qualifying race in Luxembourg and I had earnt my slot to ‘The Big Dance’ once again.

What is remarkable is that I’ve just become only the second ever female hand cyclist to finish the race and have set a new course record of 14:21:12 hrs. The course for the Ironman World Championships is tough, without a doubt, with a combination of heat, humidity and hills plus fierce winds to contend with, but the mens field seems to have increased in-depth and performance since Hand cycles were allowed to race in 1997, with Australian John MacLean being the first Physically Challenged athlete to finish. For whatever reason, very few women have attempted the challenging course.

I now know of two other female world-class athletes who are preparing to tackle Kona as Hand cyclists, but not until 2021, after the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Currently, there are five qualifying slots worldwide for men, but only three for women, and only three qualifying races in the world in which to claim a Kona slot. I’m hopeful that in 2021, all three slots will be hard to earn and the standard of performance will be even higher, with more female hand cyclists setting their sights on the Ironman World Championships!

 

“Swim 2.4 Miles. Bike 112 miles. Run 26.2. Brag for the rest of your life.”

John Collins, IRONMAN co-founder

 

Thank-you’s:

HuubDesign for providing my custom wetsuit pants for racing and awesome kick pants for pool training plus an awesome T-shirt for the Parade of Nations

TYR I love my swim skin! And my goggles stayed mist-free the entire 2.4 miles…

Wattie Ink for a stunning Trisuit which made me feel like a Pro Triathlete

Challenged Athlete Foundation for once again supporting my sporting goals and dreams with grants for travel and equipment. Stoked to be part of #TeamCAF

T.Balfe Construction for providing a much-needed cash injection as I booked all the Kona accommodation and flights!

OTE Sports/VivoLife/Gu products which kept my energy up throughout the day

Bill McCarrick, my Mechanic and Emotional Support Human at Endurance Sports Travel who tirelessly worked on my hand bike so that I could rack it for race day

Ken & Christine Glah of Endurance Sports Travel, who were excellent Sherpas in my first week in Kona-thanks for all your help

Tealby Tennis Club whose lovely Ladies put on a fundraiser to help with my travel costs

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors for their Disability grant earlier in the year

All my lovely Facebook friends who raised over £1000 to help me get to Kona

 

 

 

 

 

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Fe=Iron Male=Ironman Training

With the disappointments of 2016 behind me, I decided to have a ‘Gap Year’ from Para-cycling in 2017, and pursue the goal of completing a 70.3 Ironman in Haines City, Florida. My racing wheelchair ‘Chameleon’ was dusted off after a three year hiatus, and I started swimming regularly again, relying on my Coach Dr.Ralf Lindschulten http://www.lindschulten.de to juggle my workouts and schedule.
I was lucky to be invited to Florida with my Coach and other European hand cyclists to join a training camp run by Paralysed Veterans of America (PVA Team ) in Brooksville, Florida, in February. The Withacoochee State Trail, 46 miles of paved trail, was ideal for doing my long 4:30 hr endurance rides on my hand cycle, and I clocked up an incredible amount of training over two weeks, as well as being Lactacte Threshhold tested by Ralf in ‘Das Pain Cave’ whilst there!
The next warm weather training was in Portugal in March, where I stayed with friends of Mark Rohan, the Irish Paralympic Handcyclist, for two weeks. I had access to the City public pool and 1.6km park path, so was able to train in all three disciplines for two weeks.
A friend, Luke Delahunty, an Invictus Games competitor, was very fortunate to win a weeks cycling holiday to Greece offered by greekcycleholidays.com on the Island of Evia, and asked if I’d come. It was two weeks before my Ironman race and involved taking all of my race equipment with me, including spares and race wheels for both my hand cycle and race chair, as my flight to the U.S. was the day after we returned. But sorting difficult logistics for races are my speciality after years of solo competing!
Steve Frost, the owner of @GCHols, and assistant Lilian Pitsa were amazingly helpful-from the delicious ‘athlete food’ served daily, the lifts down to the seafront for my ‘brick’ sessions, and making the Villa completely accessible with hand-built ramps- I was able to put the finishing touches to my Ironman preparations, with lots of great riding, scenery, food and weather.
I arrived in Orlando, Florida, a week before my race, to high temperatures and humidity. Luckily, all my specialized equipment arrived intact thanks to my specially constructed box: http://www.dssmith.com/plastics/about/newsroom/2017/2/handcycle-box-for-world-ranked-para-cyclist. Unfortunately, I had to get my hand bike fixed at http://bikeshopofwinterhaven.com after my previous flight had caused damage. The mechanics were amazing, staying late to sort my gearing and Di2 so that my bike was race ready. I was kindly taken out to the Fraser Trail by Kris who works at the shop, to do my final hard interval training just days before Ironman 70.3 Haines City.

Six months of hard training were over, the rest was up to me…

 

Training by the sea in Portugal

CAF Grant received!

So, so pleased to receive a Challenged Athlete Foundation Grant @CAFoundation this year towards my Hand cycling coaching/training costs! I’m now motivated to train hard and keep my dream of competing in Rio alive!
Thank you so much to all the supporters/fundraisers who made my grant possible #CAFChangesLives