Elly Franks was so keen to get back on the race track this weekend at Italy 70.3 after a bout of injuries, but, a crash when she was in the lead on the bike changed the way her day was to end up. She fills us in on how the race panned out in the hills of Ambruzzio.

“Elly Franks… You are a Finisher!”

This is probably the last thing a pro athlete wants to hear as they cross the finish line of a race. But, this is what I heard yesterday at Italy 70.3 as I tried to inconspicuously sneak through the chute behind an age group male without being seen.

The lead up days were beautiful, warm, and the scenery was unlike any other race I had done. The Italians are very passionate about sport and comradery. The pre-race hype was all around the Italians, Martina Dogana and Ironman sub 9 club member Edith  Neiderfriniger, as well as German/Team Abu Dhabi athlete. Kristen Moller.

I had never raced any of these girls before, so it was pretty exciting to be in some new company. Plus, experiencing some sights that you would only see here in Italy/Europe: Women in full leather bodysuits or bikinis and runners cheering from the sidelines; the men out on course spectating in just tiny speedos (normally white or a flattering figure hugging pastel color); the meat, the cheese, the pizza at the finish; the one kilometre long transition; bikes all covered in plastic; and the first race briefing on the beach in five languages, while trying to be heard over Marvin Gaye’s sexual healing and the 50 people on spin bikes on the sand next to the stage… Thus the second briefing in a hotel nearby.

I went into the race a little tired, but, I needed to use all of the last  few weeks to improve my fitness. The swim was long, and the run from the beach to bike exit was really long! I think I went from second to fifth by the time I got to T1. English athlete, Jacqui Slack, lead me out of the water and a few others followed close behind.

On the bike I felt good, moving my way through to the lead with some others close behind. I was then joined by Neiderfriniger, who looked strong and comfortable, plus some Pro men. Not wanting to get caught up in a bunch I accelerated, and soon came to the long climb out in the Ambruzzio Hills. I was conservative and was overtaken by the bunch near the top. After the only aid station on the 45km loop, we started descending and some guy cut straight up the inside around a sharp corner. It seems there’s no keep right or preferred side to overtake over here. I fully locked up the back wheel and slid into the guard rail with my nicely padded thigh/hip. I ended up losing all of my nutrition and when I started riding again, I found that my back wheel was up against the rim/ brakes. A few stops and adjustments later, a police escort kept me company up the next hill, which was a little embarrassing as age group men were all flying past. The leaders were gone, some others had passed me, including the eventual race winner, Moller, and I was not able to get any speed happening on slight climbs when the back wheel would rub even more.

I figured I had nothing to lose, so I worked hard on the straight home and was even joined by a couple of age group males which made the last 10k a little easier. I was pretty much past the point of caring about a drafting penalty so just sat in and processed the reality that my race was over and pondered the decision to even run at all. I know this sounds like a poor sport. But, is a 5+ hour finish really better than a DNF for a Pro? I was outside the prize money and would barely get any points toward World Champs qualification with a 7th, plus there are many more races over the next month to think about. All of these thoughts were running through my mind, and I later discussed it with my support when I got back to T2. After a check of my hip I started to run, deciding my coach would want me to have a good run off the bike anyway. The leaders were fighting it out on the run and then started to fade as the tough bike course and longer swim and ride took its toll. Moller, having the only fast (sub 1:30) run of the day, easily took the win, followed by Neiderfriniger and Slack who had a great battle for second.


I got my long run done and battled a few blisters but as Martina Dogana was the only Pro of note behind me, and she had pulled out, I just cruised my way through the beautiful run course and enjoyed all the “allez allez allez’ along the way. A little sore and disappointed, but also happy I made the decision to finish. Until yesterday I had a no crash, no DNF record for over 150 races, and I’m glad I didn’t undo all of that in one day.

Italy 70.3 is definitely an event I would recommend for my friends who can only justify an international holiday if there is a race involved.
Ciao for now,



Kristin Moller – 4:47:58
Edith Niederfriniger – 4:50:06
Jacqui Slack – 4:51:04

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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6 Responses

  1. Garonzatron

    You had a killer race until that STRONZO cleaned you up!!

    Congrats Franky! It looks like it’s gonna be a cracker season for you! Can’t wait to watch.

    Allora, mangiare la pasta, allenarsi duramente, amore lotti, e indossare il preservativo! Via Franky!!!




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