Professional triathlete Laura Siddall has claimed her second major Ironman title — and made history.
Laura, 37, became the first British athlete to win Ironman New Zealand when she triumphed in Taupo.
Despite not being at her best, she regained the lead at the second oldest Ironman race in the world after 18km of the 42km run section on the North Island — and never looked back.
“I consciously told myself to not look back, and keep my eyes and focus forward,” said Laura, of Carlton-on-Trent.
“I did not want to give the athletes behind me anything to feed off.
“I had to work all the way to the line, not fully believing I was going to win until the final kilometre.
“It was an incredible feeling, but also very surreal. You dream of these moments and there was so much emotion going on, but it was all a bit of a blur.
“It was not my best race, but I managed to win and will treasure and savour this performance and experience for a long time to come.”
Laura, who has won races all over the world, turned professional in 2014 and stepped up from triathlons to include full Ironman races in her schedule.
Last year she won her first full-distance Ironman — and she will defend that Ironman Australia title in May.
An Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86km) swim, 112-mile (180km) bike ride and 26.22-mile (42km) run.
'It was a case of staying positive'
Recalling her success in New Zealand, Laura said: “I came out of the water in a solid time, about two minutes down from second and five or six down from the leader.
“Unfortunately, early on in the bike section I realised that my cycling legs were not coming to the party, and so had to do some quick reassessing.
“It was a case of staying positive, focusing on what I could do to get the best out of my body at that time, and hoping that my legs would come good through the ride.
“I was telling myself that there was still a long way to go.”
Laura eventually closed the gap to the athletes in front and moved into the lead at the start of the second lap.
She took a 20-second advantage into the run and retained that for 10km, before falling into second.
She said: “I did not panic or falter. I worked to keep the gap to the leader at a minimum, while keeping focus on my running, fueling and hydration. I started to close in on first place and overtook the leader.”
A four-time world triathlon champion (as an age grouper), Laura only came to the sport when she was 29, having previously worked as a mechanical engineer in the Army and at oil and gas firm Shell.
In the winter she leaves her parents’ home in Carlton-on-Trent to live in Christchurch, New Zealand, and take advantage of their longer days.