If you haven’t already heard of Kimberley Morrison, the chances are that you soon will. The 29-year-old from Great Britain has genuinely announced herself on the professional scene in recent times. In 2016, she registered her maiden half-distance victory by taking out Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires. In 2017 she finished second there again before going on to take out Ironman 70.3 Texas.

Text By Rob Sheeley | Images By Getty Images, Witsup and Kim Morrison

 

It has been a meteoric rise for the uber-biker from Norfolk, who only took up the sport in 2012, however there is a lot more to the story.

Strength is often the quality that defines a triathlete and it is something that Morrison has been required to possess in spades from a very young age.

At just three years of age, it was discovered that she would be required to undergo complex heart surgery. She was deemed to be strong enough to have the procedure done, despite her tender age. She told Witsup that it still remains a significant point in her life and that it is often a source of her ambition and determination.

“When I was 3 years old I was very delicate and poorly and have very little memory of my younger years.

“I have since enjoyed sharing my story with Great Ormond’s Street Children’s Hospital (where I underwent my heart surgery) and I am looking forward to working with them more closely in 2017 with a visit planned to the hospital giving a donation demonstrating my recent sporting success to inspire and ignite the imagination of younger children currently undergoing hospital treatment.”

While Morrison did dip her toe into triathlon at school, she predominantly concentrated on field hockey as her main sport, enjoying great success with the Loughborough University, Chiswick and Teddington Club.

A pivotal moment in her return to triathlon was reading Chrissie Wellington’s book, Life Without Limits. She explains how it unfolded.

“I loved sport at school and field hockey was my ambition when I went to Loughborough University to study Mathematics.

“I continued to enjoy Hockey when I started my career in Banking in London, however it was on a holiday from the busy bustle of London that I found myself reading Chrissie Wellingtons book that Mum had left on the sun bed.

“Triathlon was not completely new to me. We had a competition once a year at school (400m in the pool, 15km bike and a 3km run on the grass). I always entered and loved the challenge. I was not unbeaten at school but did become senior Ironman Champion in my final year at school. (I still have the trophy in our gym garage!)

“It was the sense of adventure that captured me. Whilst working in London I was searching for a new adventure and Chrissie Wellington provided an insight to a very ambitious and rewarding challenging road.

“London was electric and busy and I absolutely loved the buzz, but as triathlon took more of a hold I bravely asked for a 4 year career break. We are now in my 4th year and I can hand on heart say my triathlon ambitions are coming true.”

It did not take long for Morrison to begin making her way through the ranks. Under the tutelage of new coach Perry Agass, she was a member of the British age-group duathlon team in 2013.

By 2014 she was European age-group triathlon champion and then joined forces with current coach Mark Peace. After deciding that her run may not be up to ITU standard she moved towards half-distance racing, qualifying for the World Championships in 2015. It was during that qualifying race that she realised her future potential.

“Ironman 70.3 Haugesund in 2015 for me was the race I felt I could step up and race in the Pro field. I had the ambition but this needed to be achieved in my race performance.

“I finished Top AG in this race by a strong margin and finished seventh in the pro women’s field. I appreciate it is a different race and the dynamics are different but I felt I could compete at that inspiring level.”

Morrison’s first foray into the professional world of triathlon took place later that year when she gained experience at Challenge Sardinia (sixth) and Challenge Phuket (eighth).

It took little time for her to prove that she not only belonged at the top level, but she would be a force to be reckoned with. Her debut win at Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires in early 2016 took many by surprise, including Morrison herself.

“It was a massive surprise. I was a complete “Z Lister” in that race; bottom of the pack.

“I had an excellent swim and held the chase pack with USA super-swimmer Heather Lendway up the road. This was the race where I really showed some exciting potential on the bike and to have the lead was excellent.

“At the first turnaround on the run I had four or five minutes on Dede Griesbauer  (an athlete I have followed and admired in triathlon). I did not look back once in the entire race because I knew in my heart I was running at maximum potential.

“It was only when I saw the finishers tape I took a glance back, and there was Dede seven seconds behind, but I had enough! That moment was just unbelievable, my heart is racing just thinking about it.”

2017 began in auspicious fashion for Morrison when she took on some of the very best in the business at Ironman 70.3 Dubai and found herself leading off the bike in the company of none other than Daniela Ryf. She says that these experiences, along with her podium appearances are a massive fillip for her confidence.

“Coming out of T2 with Daniela Ryf in January this year! Yep, so much confidence, I even mouthed to my parents and husband watching as I came out of T2 just ahead of Daniela. “What on earth!”

“Ironman 70.3 Dubai in January gave me confidence that I have the potential to bike to the front of any race. I am extremely happy with second at Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires and a win three weeks later at Ironman 70.3 Texas.

“I will be standing on my first World Championship start line in a Professional field later this year full of ambition and promise.”

Power on the bike has been a real showcase of Morrison’s career to date. Whilst there may have been an amount of natural talent, there is no substitute for hard work.

“My brother said to me when we were kids growing up when we biked to the pub for New Year’s day, he struggled to stay with me (he is three years older and pretty athletic himself). Of course he only tells me this now.

In all seriousness I believe it is my coach Mark Pearce who is capitalising on my bike strength and my determination in races to get to the front fast. We work hard on the bike but we also work smart. We are not just pushing the big miles each and every day.”

Often a triathlete will spend many years in a sport before reaching the top level. In the process, they will accumulate a lot of experience as well as copious amounts of memorabilia and event merchandise. Being relatively new to the sport, Morrison not only still possesses some of the quirks that you may expect in an age-grouper but she also loves to go all out at the event expo’s.

“I am still laughing, early this year I was at Ironman 70.3 Dubai and a really good friend of mine and AG triathlete, Amy, was horrified to see me walking over 1km to transition helmet already on!

“I am fairly “chopper-ish” in my ways and I love a good shop at races. I just love the sport so much and do get carried away with all the toppings!

“Seriously though I’ve had my good and my bad races but I feel that each year we have set ambitious goals but we as a team have risen to them and made sure I have kept improving each year.”

She also mentions that being a pro so soon can sometimes feel a little surreal.

“It’s incredible and I still have a massive smile when I approach the Pro queue in registration.. I still cannot believe how quickly my dream and ambition has become a reality.”

The importance of having a good team around you cannot be understated and it is something that Morrison attributes greatly to her successes so far.

“I said in my pre race mailing (to sign up just pop me an email: kim@kimberleymorrison.co.uk) the day before winning Ironman 70.3 Texas If I can come close to showcasing the passion, dedication and excitement Ben has shown during our build up, this will be a great race for us!” and I truly meant it, my husband Ben completes our success story so far. My family and friends also motivate my ambitions every day. I am grateful for all of the support from friends, family, sponsors, my race team Race Hub and my coach Mark Pearce.

“Home is a really rewarding environment, my maximum ability to stay away on training camps is 8-10 days, there is just too much for me at home that I love. My husband absolutely loves the sport and my Mum and Dad also share the ambition. We often travel to races as a family with my brother and his wife Linda following online from Hong Kong.”

Very few pro athletes are also able to balance part-time work with their pursuit of excellence; Morrison is one who manages that feat. She has also recently entered into the world of triathlon coaching, making her the complete package.

“My Mum will be laughing! I work for the family run business when time allows. I tend to work more often leading into races as I have very little training and this works well. It keeps the focus away from triathlon for a few days, which can feel refreshing.

“Earlier this year I gained my swim and triathlon coaching qualifications and have started to take onboard a couple of athletes who I coach which I absolutely love. It is very rewarding and I am passionate to share what I have learnt so far in the sport.”

Morrison is fortunate enough to be sponsored by Jacuzzi, which is no doubt a very handy recovery tool. She also has invaluable tips for anyone just starting out in the sport.

“Enjoy the training, enjoy the atmosphere and embrace the racing. Five minutes before the start feels horrendous but, as soon as you get going the feeling is amazing. The finish line is magic!”

While success is starting to flow, Morrison is always looking to improve, something that is imperative in the ever-evolving world of triathlon.

“It is exciting to still be finding new speed, strength and robustness in my training. Obviously there is my run however there is more work to be done with my swimming (we are using the Endless Pool weekly to take video analysis of my stroke and sending it off to my coach, Mark).

“Also my coach and I know how hard I am biking in a race and currently it is not hard enough! Triathlon is the complete package and all three of my disciplines are getting focus and there is scope to get better as a complete triathlete.”

Morrison also has an unlikely training partner who attracts more than their share of attention.

“Ben and I absolutely love our Alaskan Malamute, Suka. We often turn up to events together and people ask for a photo. I now know they are not asking to take a photo of me!”

About The Author

Rob Sheeley is the Race Editor for WITSUP

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2 Responses

  1. Stanley Brodsky

    I am not surprise that Kimberly Morrison Won in Texas ! Mrs. Morrison is just coming into her peak ! I will not be surprised if she wins in September in Tenn. U . S . A .

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Very interesting read, although in that last picture I am not sure whether Suka is running or not!

    Reply

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