AVR Clare Hansford in action at Ironman World Championships in South Africa
PUBLISHED: 14:37 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:38 18 September 2018
A year on from gaining a qualifying slot for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships, Clare Hansford found herself on the start line in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to soak up the atmosphere of a world class event, writes Dave Mutter.
Six thousand athletes, representing 91 countries, arrived to do battle in what was described by the organisers as ‘the fiercest race in the friendliest city’.
On a course notorious for windy conditions, the ladies’ race had the slightly more ‘favourable’ westerlies with the 1,900m swim starting from the beach into surf and choppy seas.
Clare produced a strong swim, finishing in the top quarter of her age group in 36:24. The out and back bike route hugged the coast, with dramatic scenery making up for the unrelenting head wind for the ‘out’ 25 miles.
Despite this, Clare relished the opportunity and challenge of racing alongside such experienced athletes and finished the 56-mile route on a high in just over three hours. In energy-sapping heat, the run phase saw many competitors suffer and Clare was no exception.
She hit the wall early and struggled to maintain concentration or a competitive pace for much of the 13.1-mile course. Cheered on by friends and family and somewhat re-fuelled, she picked up to complete one of the most exhilarating, exhausting and memorable races of her life in 5:52:56, 53rd in her age group out of 154 starters, and undeniably on top of the world.