From total beginner to competing against the best in the world in 3 years, Thornbury Running Club’s Taryn Roberts has made rapid progress in the highly competitive and gruelling world of Ironman distance triathlon since she competed in her first event in Ironman UK in Bolton in 2016.
After a promising debut in Bolton and with her brother, Dylan, a fellow Ironman athlete to train and compete with, her results continued to improve, She also benefitted from the guidance of a coach to help structure her training to the specific rigours of racing for over 10 hours across the 3 disciplines of swim, bike and run.
Each October the top Ironman athletes who gain qualification from other Ironman races around the world compete on the Big Island of Hawaii. Taryn booked her place for the Championships with a victory in the 25-29 age category in last year’s Ironman Wales.
The conditions in Hawaii are difficult to replicate for UK based athletes, as the heat, humidity and the strong trade winds can play a decisive factor in shaping the outcome of the race. However, Taryn’s form going into Hawaii was promising and she had broken several long-standing Thornbury running records in hot weather.
The race started early in the morning in the Kailua harbour with a 2.4-mile swim in the swell of the Pacific Ocean and 2,500 other athletes for company. After negotiating the chaos of the mass start in the water, Taryn made excellent progress and finished the swim in 1 hour 9:33 mins.
The 112-mile bike ride on the undulating Queen K Highway along the western edge of the island featured some stunning views of the lava fields and the ocean. Taryn’s parents and boyfriend, Bruce, were on hand for support and encouragement throughout the day, which was needed as the temperature gauge and humidity levels were rising and the strong winds made some of the descents precarious. By the end of the bike section, which Taryn completed in 6 hours 31:41 mins, the medical tent was being kept busy with people with ice bags pressed to their bodies to cool themselves and reduce swelling before they started the 26.2-mile run to the finish.
The marathon was an extreme test of managing to stay cool and taking on fluids in the aid stations dotted along the course. Taryn’s signature strength is a good run on tired legs, and she regained many places with a 4 hour 9:36 marathon to finish in the top quarter of all the women racing on the day in 332nd place and 1,598th overall with a total time of 12 hours 1:07 mins.
Thornbury’s Rob Watkins and Rob Cowlard travelled down into the Somerset Hills on Sunday for The Exmoor Stagger. This trail race packs 3,600 ft of climbing into its 16-mile course and included an ascent of Exmoor’s highest peak, Dunkery Beacon.
Rob Watkins started the season with a strong performance, finishing 23rd overall out of 300 runners and 3rd in the MV50 age category in 2 hours 18:11 mins. Rob Cowlard also made it onto the age group podium with a 3rd place in the MV45s and 37th overall in 2 hours 27:14 mins.
Thornbury runners were running in 9 different parkruns on Saturday morning. On Tamar Trails course, Will Hamilton ran 20:23, followed by Hannah Kinloch-Haken in 22:48 mins. Chris Lee was running in the political heartland of America in Washington DC and completed the Roosevelt Island DC course in 26:58 mins.
Nick Langridge ran Stonehouse in 22:29 mins and Mel Lloyd ran Wotton in 31:09 mins. In Chipping Sodbury, Rachel Murphy finished in 32:55 mins and Brian Godsman ran 25:49 in Skatas. On Severn Bridge, Henry Orna and Paul Clark were only separated by a second, Henry ran 19:34 mins and Paul was a short distance behind. Paul Saville was next in 20:59 mins, followed by Duncan Pauly in 25:19 mins and Lynne Turner 30:57 mins.
David Palmer finished Somerdale Pavilion in 28:32 mins and Kevin Arnold ran Clevedon Salthouse Fields in 22:37 mins.