Tue, Nov 14, 2023 7:39 PM
Marlborough multi-sporter Nat Sutton has just returned from a trip to Hawaii – but it was definitely no holiday!
Nat travelled to the Aloha State for her first expedition to the Everest of multisport racing – the Ironman World Championships on the gruelling Kona course.
Prior to the race she posted, “This is it. The past two years of working hard, early mornings, long weekends of training and a lot of kai … I have dreamed of this for a while now. While the lead-in hasn’t been easy by any stretch, I’m here.
“I will be visiting the hurt locker, but I’m going to enjoy that stay to the finish line.”
And finish she did, completing the iconic event in 10 hours 18 minutes 54 seconds. Given the fact her Achilles tendon and calf had flared up after training ride earlier in the week, leaving her barely able to walk, she was just happy to make the start line.
After also having been forced to spend a week or so out of the water before travelling to Kona with some wrist issues, Nat was feeling a bit nervous about the 3.86km swim. However, following a solid training swim and with “perfect” sea conditions on race day she set off strongly. Unfortunately, cramp in her both feet around the 2.5km mark slowed her progress.
“All in all, the time was a bit slower than I wanted but it wasn’t horrendous and the wrist played ball,” she said.
Then it was on to the 180km bike leg, her hardest discipline, and an anticipated battle with the notorious Kona winds.
A salt tablet helped alleviate the foot cramps and she began working her way through the field.
“The heat was manageable and my legs felt good,” Nat said. “When I got to the turnaround I was preparing myself for the wind and heat. There was a little bit of wind but nothing compared to what I had trained or raced in before.
“I knew my bike time was going to be good but I was stoked to come away with a 5min PB for that distance.”
The marathon run is normally her strong suit, but the Achilles/calf issues brought an uncertainty to the mix. However, Kona is no place for the faint-hearted and Nat remained positive.
“Running through town and all the supporters was incredible … there really is no other race like it. Heading out to the energy lab I felt good and was thinking the sub 10hr was possible, but then the tummy turned.
“I stopped at 20km and sorted myself out, then picked it up a bit. But I couldn’t put any nutrition in. That made for a slightly longer slog back into town than I wanted. However, I perked up again for the last 2.5km because I knew I was going to cross the finish line in my first attempt at Kona.
“Thanks to all of those who donated towards my cause and made it possible, all the well wishes and most of all my support crew, Chris.”