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Army Reservist excels in Ironman Challenge

Fighting fit and Wellington-based Army Reservist Lieutenant Claire Kirby’s outstanding effort in last weekend’s Taupo Ironman will enable her to take on the world in 2019.

Lieutenant Kirby, who lives in Whitby, won her age group in last weekend’s Taupo Ironman 70.3 and with it a spot in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nice, France, next September.

She competed in her first Ironman 70.3 (1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21km run) only in March this year but did well enough in that to get a “rolldown” spot at the 2018 World Championships in South Africa.

“It was just such an amazing atmosphere and amazing feeling in South Africa,” she said. “I had a pretty good race but I got food poisoning the day before, so I knew I hadn’t done my best. I really did feel that I had unfinished business.”

She returned from South Africa in September determined to get to the 2019 World Championships, and the first goal was to win the 30-34 women’s section of the Taupo event.

She knew she had improved a lot and was more than happy to shave 14 minutes off her time – and achieve her goal of winning her age group.

“This was the first time I’ve really seriously trained for something for a long time and had a goal of winning rather than just participating,” she said.

“I’ve really enjoyed how I’ve developed and grown stronger mentally, with the discipline of eating well and training in the early mornings and late nights around work.

“My family has taken a bit of a hit – they haven’t seen so much of me.”

Training takes up to 20 hours a week but luckily partner Major Albie Rothman understands the demands – he is also a triathlete and will compete in the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Championship in Lausanne, Switzerland, the week before Lieutenant Kirby competes in Nice.

Lieutenant Kirby said she always enjoyed cross-country running growing up in Feilding, where parents Bronwyn and Richard home-schooled their four daughters.

She joined the NZDF Territorial Force in 2009, having two years earlier won Miss Manawatu and then taking the New Zealand title.

She now works full-time in digital communications and public relations in Wellington, and said the NZDF had been hugely supportive of her sport.

“In Defence we really value sport and recognise the value that it has on your overall wellbeing and mental toughness,” she said.

“That translates well with the kind of work that we do, and I think across Defence we do recognise that.”

She plans to visit a few beaches as she takes a break from triathlon training over summer. However, she is planning to do the Tarawera Ultramarathon and some mountainbike races in the next few months, before getting back into strict ironman training in May.

“I’m going to have some pretty big goals for next year about what I want to do for World Champs, and I’ve got lots of time to work towards them,” she said.

© Scoop Media

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