One of the world’s fastest women over middle-distance and with a staggering number of race wins under her belt, Emma Pallant-Browne has added three-time World Duathlon Champion to her multi-sport accolades.
Pallant-Browne’s career started off as a youngster on the track, where she achieved success in 1500m and U23 cross-country. Moving over to triathlon after a knee injury in 2012, Pallant-Browne quickly found success on the multi-sport stage, her strong running proving a sturdy starting block to kickstart her triathlon career, which really took off after bagging World Duathlon golds in 2015 and 2016.
Fast-forward seven years, and Pallant-Browne’s swapped leafy Surrey for the Johannesburg heat, she’s also proven her worth over both middle and long-distance racing, with her 70.3 wins surpassing double figures. The end of April saw the athlete jet off to Ibiza to race the duathlon championship at the World Triathlon Multisport Championships, the long duathlon hiatus leaving her guessing as to what to expect on race day.
“I was quite nervous going into a different distance to what I’m used to, and it was a long time ago that I last did the World Duathlon. It was a good race and I think I pulled it off pretty well.”
Differing from her previous years, the event covered a shorter sprint format over a 5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run: “It was different because of the distance. The other two were standard distance, so double the distance. This one being a sprint, it definitely felt a lot more fast and furious.”
Leading up to the event, Pallant-Browne had delt with both injury and illness, suffering with a torn hamstring followed by a sickness, which saw her having to miss out on the start of her season. On what pushed her on during the race, Pallant-Browne said: “I think I put pressure on myself because I really wanted those three titles. It’s something that hasn’t been done. A lot of women have won it twice, but no one’s won it three times. That was my motivation.”
The race saw Pallant-Browne take an undeniable victory of 22 seconds ahead of Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer, after a break away on the bike together ended in the Brit striding to the lead in the second run leg.
In the years between her duathlon championship victories, Pallant-Browne proved herself to be one of the sport’s most consistent achievers over a range of race formats, but particularly over the middle-distance, where she’s claimed two podium finishes at the 70.3 World Championships.
On how she’s developed as an athlete, Pallant-Browne expanded: “It’s been massive. I moved to long course triathlon and am doing a lot longer distances these days, but also time trialling, so having to be strong on the bike. I think that really helps because coming from a run background, that was my stronger event. That’s why I’ve tried to up my biking.”
Though Pallant-Browne clearly excels over both short and long formats, there’s a reason why she’s leaned towards the longer events: “It’s mainly because my swim wasn’t the greatest and the WTS [World Triathlon Series] races were very much coming down to breakaway groups off the front, and really strong swimmers and bikers working together.
“I wanted to use the bike a little bit more in my races and play to that strength a bit more. So the time trialling aspect of the long course really helps me out. Also, just the distance of the run being that much longer. I feel like it’s much more of an individual event, you’re not drafting so it’s not these big packs and you can rely on yourself a bit more - and my swim is good enough to get away with it.”
With duathlon well and truly conquered, Pallant-Browne’s now gearing up to settle unfinished business when it comes to the middle-distance title. “The big goal this year is the World 70.3 Champs; the Half IRONMAN over in Finland. I’ve gone second at the World 70.3, I’ve gone third, but I still haven’t got that world title, so that’s definitely the big goal. I also want to go back and defend my 70.3 European title over in Estonia.”
Looking back on her career so far, Pallant-Browne’s keen to thank the coaches who have helped her along the way: “I’m really lucky with the coaches that I’ve worked with. Just after Covid I switched to Tim Don, who’s been working remotely with me and has been instrumental in my change. I know I’m in good hands.
“At the beginning, I was being coached by Michelle Dillon, and that was great whilst I was in the UK. Now being based in South Africa, Tim’s just so good at the data; he holds me back when I need to be, and has pushed me in the key sessions to get me running speeds and swimming things that I didn’t think that I could make.”
Check out all the results from the 2023 World Triathlon Multisport Championships in Ibiza and the Roll of Honour from the Great Britain Age-Group Team on the buttons below.