DERRY native, Carolyne Doherty, now living and working in Perth in Western Australia, recently achieved one of her ambitions when claiming a medal in what’s considered one of the toughest sports on the athletics calendar.
Carolyne, the daughter of Don and Frances Doherty from Grangemore Park, was taking part in one of the toughest one-day races in the world, the legendary “Ironman” Triathlon.
The venue was the usually tranquil city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa and while Carolyne had trained particularly hard for the race which consists of a 3.8 kms. sea swim (that’s 152 lengths of your local pool), 180 kms (/112 miles) on the bike followed by a full marathon 42 km. (26 miles run).
In previous years this particular event has been run in very seasonal conditions. However, this year there was a huge storm and the talk during race week was that it had been so rough, the swim would have to be cancelled!
As it transpired on the day the race proceeded as normal despite the storm which was still blowing. It was so cold that athletes were wearing wet suits in order to remain dry on the beach!
Carolyne battled through the swim in a time of 1 hour 10 minutes and was well placed in her age group. She was then faced with the 180 kms bike ride in difficult conditions.
And due to the blustery conditions, everyone seemed to gather in the ‘small change ring’ and some guys with disc wheels were actually running with their bikes as it was so difficult to keep the bike upright!
In her one previous Ironman race in Australia, the Derry girl completed that section in 5 hours 50 minutes. However, on this occasion, due to the presence of 60 kilometre an hour winds on the bike course, she finished the tough section in a very respectable 6 hours 34 minutes.
Testing Conditions For
Predictably, Carolyne started the marathon with very little in the tank due to the arduous first two legs of the event, but she continued to battle and completed the run in an amazing 4 hours, 23 minutes for an overall time of 12 hours 18 minutes.
It was so cold and wet during the marathon that quite a few competitors actually run with foil blankets and plastic bags around them or long sleeved tops and fleeces, so unlike the usual Ironman experience.
In the end, the former St. Cecilia’s College athlete and member of both the City of Derry Swim Club and North-West Triathlon Club was amazed but delighted to be told that she had finished in third place in her category and, therefore, got to stand on the podium at the official Ironman prizegiving the next day.
As the first girl in her age group was a former professional, Carolyne’s achievement is considered even more remarkable but it all came at a cost. Indeed, such was the severity of her effort that she ended up on a drip in an attempt to try to counteract the affects of 12 hours and 18 minutes of non-stop gruelling racing.
Commenting afterwards, Carolyne said: “I was shocked to end up on the podium at an Ironman race, but I was absolutely delighted. I was over the moon after the effort I put in.
“You couldn’t take the smile off my face! I would just like to thank my coach, Bill Black, in England for all his help and assistance and guidance through the previous nine months. I have no idea what my next race will be but I sincerely hope it’s not going to be in another hurricane!”
All of her friends in Derry in both the North-West Triathlon Club and the Triangle Triathlon Club are immensely proud of her achievement and wish her all the best in her racing and training in Western Australia in the future.