This Sunday sees the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas and in the thick of the action is a Derry girl, Carolyne Doherty, now living and working in Perth, Western Australia.
Carolyne, a former member of the North-West Triathlon Club and the Triangle Triathlon club, now a member of the Stadium Club in Perth, will be running shoulder with world champions and age group winners.
The large field, in excess of 2,500 triathletes from all over the globe, qualified to take part in this prestigious championship which has been based for the last six years in Lake Henderson, beside the U.S. gambling capital of Las Vegas.
The Ironman brand continues to grow and grow – what used to just be two or three races a year over the full distance, culminating in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii every October, now has a series of half distance races, each of which consist of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile cycle and a 13.1 mile run, hence the name 70.3!
This 70.3 distance has grown exponentially in popularity as athletes can race two or three of these a year.
Indeed, there are now over 120 of these events worldwide, therefore, qualification for the World Championship is incredibly difficult.
In fact, just last week history was made when two Irish athletes namely, Gavin Noble from Enniskillen (an Irish Olympian) and Eimear Mullan from Portstewart, both won the 70.3 race in Austria, thus qualifying for next year’s World Championships.
Carolyne will be in exulted company but she will not be overawed.
FORmer INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS’ TRIATHLETE
Over a decade out of the sport after representing Ireland in Triathlon at schools level, Carolyne’s strong swimming background and an appetite for hard work in all three sports ensured that she has all the right tools to succeed and survive at long distance endurance sport.
Obviously being based in Perth means that she has the opportunity for top class training all the year round – except in midsummer when it is too hot!
There are more 50 metre outdoor pools in Perth alone than in the whole of Ireland and the UK so access to outdoor swimming is not a problem.
Carolyne qualified for this year’s World Championship with a stellar performance at the Mandurah 70.3 last November and in addition, this experienced surfing life-saver, who works for the Red Cross, has finished two full distance Ironman events, one in Busselton in West Australia and one in South Africa each in a time of just over 11 hours.
In her spare time Carolyne coaches netball and plays volleyball but there hasn’t been too much spare time recently as she endeavours to have her best ever performance in the rarefied atmosphere of the desert of Las Vegas, as she battles both heat and altitude in the 2013 World Championships where she will be cheered on by members of her family circle.
Carolyne’s ultimate goal is now to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman Championships which are held in October and if this ex St. Cecilia’s College pupil can keep swimming, biking and running even faster over these vast distances, then there is no reason why Derry cannot have its first ever representative at the toughest most iconic race on the planet.