Yellow Jersey athlete Lucy Gossage was looking on form to beat her 2015 result of 10th at this year’s Ironman World Championships in Kona.
With podiums at Ironman New Zealand and South Africa, and victories in Ironman UK and the Staffordshire 70.3, her form was easily on par with 2015. With a lot more recovery time built in to her 2016 season if ever Lucy was to be a surprise breakaway, it was this year.
But the best laid schemes often go awry, and just two months out from the race Lucy found herself in surgery having a smashed collarbone bolted back together.
Perhaps the real distinction between a professional triathlete and those of us who just play with the sport is a dogged determination to never give up, and it seems this is undoubtedly true for Lucy. Not only has she made the trip over to Kona, Lucy will be racing on Saturday. We caught up with her ahead of the race to ask her some probing questions.
Have you regained the use of both arms, or can we look forward to watching you swim with one tied down to your side?
Let’s pretend I only have one arm and then it gives me an excuse for being at the back of the pro swim!
At what point did you realise that competing in Hawaii was still a possibility, and how did you find the motivation to keep training during your recovery?
Looking back one of the things I’m most proud about is managing to motivate myself to do some training in the 8 days between the crash and the operation. At the time I thought Kona was completely out of the question but I forced myself to do some short sessions on the watt bike and cross trainer (and even some single armed swims!) ‘just in case’. With hindsight I think that meant that I didn’t lose too much fitness in the first couple of weeks. If I’d done nothing in those two weeks it would have been a much steeper mountain to climb. I guess 3 weeks after the surgery I realised that, barring disaster, I’d probably be able to get round Kona. And actually I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how my fitness progressed in the 3 weeks following that. I’m running well and rode a 50 mile TT the day before I flew out pretty much exactly the same time as I did last year on arguably a slower day.
It must be difficult to re-asses your goals before a big race, both practically and emotionally. Is there a sense of disappointment that you won’t be at your peak, or have you been able to shift your focus and take some the positives of making it to the race?
Honestly, for me the biggest achievement is making it to the start line. I was in a hole mentally and physically after the crash. But having said that I’m not just going to poodle round the course on Saturday. I’m here to race hard and will do my absolute best. Kona is a different beast to many other races. I’ve never really performed at my best here so who knows, maybe an alternative run in will turn out to be an unexpected formula that works for me! And in many ways, having the crash has removed any pressure or expectations. I thrive on being the underdog and don’t perform well under pressure. So going into the race without putting that pressure on myself is definitely a good thing.
You have mentioned in one of your blogs that this is likely to be your last Kona for a while. Is this still the case, and how are your priorities shifting for next year?
I’m not going to race Kona next year. I’ve been here 3 years in a row and having Kona as a target tends to dictate your racing year. So I’m going to race a bit more in the UK and Europe. I’d love to have a shot at the UK double (Bolton and Wales) as I did in 2013.
Everybody asks the pros about their last minute preparations and the nutrition they will be using on race day, as though there is a secret trick to faster times and one of these days an athlete will slip up and tell us about it. Is there a secret formula to winning Ironman races, and if so, can we have it please?
My secret weapon is a tub of ice cream the night before the race…..
Speculation is of course running wild in the Yellow Jersey office as to the optimum pre-race ice-cream. Which flavour works best? Are we looking at ice cream sold by the pint, or a larger family size? Will the budget supermarket palm oil substitute work, or will only a traditional dairy cream do the job? Sometimes, a little information is worse than no information at all.
We’ve put together some information on how to watch the race this Saturday and a run down on some of this year’s British competitors.
It is difficult to make insurance sound exciting, but we can insure exciting people. Yellow Jersey supply travel insurance to Lucy Gossage and provide equally robust cycle travel insurance as well as worldwide bicycle insurance to amateur triathletes too.