Lucy Gossage is one of nine British triathletes racing in the professional division of the 2014 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii next weekend. Having been to Kona twice as an Age-Group athlete, she is finding the experience very different this time around.
Currently on a two-year sabbatical from working as an oncology doctor, Lucy has already won Ironman Lanzarote this year (in May) and finished second in South Africa. Last year she won Ironman UK and Ironman Wales as well as the ETU Powerman European Long Distance Duathlon title.
She’ll be part of the pro women’s start next Saturday (11 October) along with fellow Brits, Rachel Joyce, Leanda Cave, Cat Morrison, Jodie Swallow and Corinne Abraham.
How has your preparation gone?
I think I’ve done everything I could have done in the run up to the race. Obviously you always look back and wonder ‘could I have done more’ but objectively I know I’ve pushed myself as much as I could without getting ill or injured. I had three weeks out in Lanzarote [before flying to Hawaii], which I hope will have helped me get used to the heat a bit.
How would you describe the build up to Kona? It seems like there is lots going on all the time with sea swims, coffee boats, the underpants run and so on.
Yeah – I think next week it really kicks off! To be brutally honest I’m very glad I didn’t come out here too early. Training here is hard – riding on the race course is quite literally like riding in a motorway in an oven with glass scattered everywhere!
How do you stay focused?
I’m really trying not to think about anyone else. Easier said than done. In all honesty I’m quite terrified! But I know if I start looking at others I’ll panic so I guess I’m trying to focus on what I can control – which is me.
What do you think your main strength will be this time around?
Hopefully I’ll have a strong run. I’ve really been working on this as think it’s the area I’ve underperformed on relative to my abilities. If I can do the run I think I can hopefully I’ll be moving through the field at the end rather than being overtaken!
How different is it going to Kona as a pro rather than an Age Grouper?
It’s SO different! I went twice as an age grouper. The first time I really was a rookie on a road bike without a clue. I didn’t know anyone, was too scared to talk to anyone and completely intimidated by the whole thing. The second time, in 2010, was much more fun. I felt like I deserved to be there and had a much better race. This time I’m still a little bit in awe of the other pros, but equally know there will be a bunch of age groupers out there who are a bit in awe of me. I don’t feel any pressure this time round – there is enough Brit talent here to take that off me!
Who do you think the main contenders will be?
That’s so hard to say. There are six other British women starting, all of whom will believe they could be on the podium. It’s unlikely to be a British 1,2,3 but not impossible.
What are your favourite things about racing in Kona?
The finishing line. Running through that is incredible – it’s the culmination of years of work and I get quite emotional even thinking about it!
Describe the wind and heat for someone who has never been to Hawaii.
It’s not actually that windy at the moment but my memories of my first year are struggling to keep my bike upright! Maybe I’ve got a bit more used to the wind after my time training in the fens and Lanzarote.
Do you have any different strategies or kit based on the heat/wind?
I have put some extra bottle cages on my bike so I can collect as many bottles as I need at aid stations. I still have a standard trisuit but will make sure I put on my factor 50 P20 suncream!
How long are you staying out there after you finish and what will you look forward to most?
I’ve got a few days out here afterwards. I was hoping to explore the island but forgot my drivers license… Quite honestly I’m getting very excited about the after party. It feels a long time since I let my hair down!
If everything goes exactly to plan, what is your goal for the race?
To have a good swim, a solid bike that’s paced well and get off the bike in the shape to do the run I think I can. I race better if I’m enjoying it so just hope I can avoid getting overwhelmed by the whole ‘world champs’ thing and remember to smile…
Beach picture by David Perce
Article date 3 October 2014