Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce started the year with a bang. A cracking run at Abu Dhabi – the fastest women’s time and broke the run course record, plus a second at the inaugural Ironman Melbourne, which rocketed her into the sub-nine club. Her next race on the calendar was Ironman 70.3 Florida, however, a month of illness forced her to pull out. Kansas 70,3, last weekend, was the first race since Ironman Melbourne and despite missing some valuable sessions prior to the race, Joyce was back on top. She fills us in on her race along the yellow brick road.

I’ve been pretty open about the fact my training has been a little up and down since Ironman Melbourne. During April I was on antibiotics for 20 days out of 30. Going into May I was still struggling to get back to full health. This obviously interrupted my training and affected my confidence going into Kansas. Having said that, I put all thoughts of missed sessions out of my head and focused on the good sessions I’d done. Most of all I was looking forward to getting out and racing again, especially after I was forced to pull Florida 70.3 from my schedule.

Looking at my competition ahead of race day, the two names that stood out were Jessica Jacobs and Amanda Stevens. Amanda has a killer swim and is a strong biker, while Jessica can run fast! (Jacobs was a DNS – Ed). My race plan was to have a strong swim and try to hang with Amanda for as long as possible. That turned out to be about 50 meters! On race morning there was quite a wind and a real chop, so it was difficult to sight the buoys let alone stay on someone’s feet. It was always going to be a tall order though to stay on Amanda’s feet. However, I was pleased it was a non-wetsuit swim as that always benefits stronger swimmers.

My plan was to put in a strong bike and try and find something above ironman intensity. I think I maybe found half an extra gear. Amanda had a one minute lead after the swim and it was actually nice having someone to chase. I caught and passed her at about the 15mile (24km) mark, and I then built up a six minute gap by the time I got to T2. It was a blustery day so I worked into the wind and was reminding myself to continue working when I had a tail wind!  I had a line from a song I’d been listening to the day before, “keep the pedal to the metal”, that was going round and round in my head, which reminded me to keep up the effort.

Heading into the run I didn’t know what to expect as I’ve done very little speed work since before Melbourne. When I saw I was running about 6:10 min/miles (approx 3:50min/km) for the first few miles I was hoping I wasn’t going to blow! It was mighty hot, and with little shade it wasn’t an easy run. I saw I had a good gap on Amanda so I could keep relaxed, which tends to keep my running style more efficient. Plus, I always end up thinking the faster I run the sooner I finish! The support out on the course was also a real motivator.  My home-stay host, Laura Denhart, was out on one of the aid stations and as I’d met many of her friends in the days leading up to the race I got a real lift when I ran through there.  It’s hard to say if I pushed to the max but it was fun trying to keep pace with the guys in front and even pass a couple – haha! The yellow brick road of a finishing chute complete with Dorothy, the scarecrow, tin man, witch and flying monkeys was a sight for sore eyes!

All in all, a great event with great support from the local community.  I hope to be back next year!

Kirsten Sass (AG 30-34) had a phenomenal race coming third overall – 4:37:22

Swim 34:36, bike 2:29:24, run 1:31:11



Name Swim Bike Run Finish
 Rachel Joyce GBR 0:28:02 2:22:10 1:21:21 4:13:46
 Amanda Stevens USA 0:27:10 2:29:21 1:38:00 4:36:26
 Lesley Smith USA 0:34:49 2:36:17 1:24:11 4:38:06
 Mandy McLane USA 0:31:10 2:28:21 1:37:12 4:38:50
 Missy Kuck USA 0:28:19 2:30:08 1:39:20 4:40:02
 Morgan Chaffin USA 0:32:43 2:30:51 1:38:59 4:44:53
 Christine Anderson USA 0:30:57 2:36:50 1:35:22 4:44:59
 Sierra Snyder USA 0:31:01 2:36:44 1:36:19 4:46:26
 Natasha Van Der Merwe USA 0:35:41 2:31:57 1:39:07 4:48:56
 Ashley Clifford USA 0:30:17 2:50:29 1:27:48 4:51:31
 Jackie Pearce USA 0:36:17 2:40:30 1:36:05 4:55:20

About The Author

Rachel Joyce

Professional Triathlete and our “Not so foreign correspondent”

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