Bedfordshire can boast a new World Champion after two ladies from Bedford Harriers and BRCC travelled to Austria to contest the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
These were being held in Europe for the first time in their history and the stunning location of Zell am See in Austria was a suitably impressive venue.
Gill Fullen had qualified in the 50-54 category and Nora Haggart in the 55-59 age group – both ladies winning their age groups at Ironman races in the UK to secure their slots at the prestigious championships.
The weather in Zell was very un-British, with temperatures in the mid-30s on race day, making the going extremely difficult.
The 1,900m swim started for the age-groupers at around midday, according to their start wave, while the 56-mile bike course included a tough, steep section and a very fast and technical descent.
This was followed by a half-marathon distance run in the blazing heat on scenic paths around the lake, meaning that the town centre finish in twisting, narrow lanes was a particularly welcome sight after such a tough course.
Gill completed the swim in 33.13 minutes, the cycle in 2.48 hours and the run in 1.39 hours, giving her a total race time of 5.09 hours – enough to win her age group and give her the title of World Champion.
Nora completed the swim in 36.47 minutes, the cycle in 3.17 hours and the run in 1.59 hours, giving her a total time of 6.04 hours and finishing 18th out of 51 ladies in her age group.
Gill said: “Just being at the World Championships amongst some of the best triathletes in the world was an incredible experience and one that we will both remember for years to come.”