Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Lawn grabs final spot for Ironman World Championship

(Ian Heppenstall reports on Joanna Lawn’s preparations for Vegas and Kona)

Seven-time Ironman New Zealand champion Joanna Lawn has secured the last qualifying spot for Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. She will join fellow kiwis Cameron Brown and Samantha Warriner at Ironman World Championship on Oct. 8 at Kona-Kailua.

The new qualifying system will result in an elite field of 50 men and 30 women for the professional race, determined on the five best performances in Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races this year.

Lawn was only one spot off the initial top 25 women who secured their places at the first deadline July 31 and had to wait out a further month for the cut for the final five places.

She had a solid fifth placing in the high priority Frankfurter Sparkasse Ironman European Championship to move to 26th on the list, but waited as four other athletes edged ahead of her in the final two qualifying races – in Canada and Louisville.

“It was been a bit stressful with the new points system and watching all the results yesterday. It has all been out of my control over the weekend. I just had to sit back and watch, but I have got there and that is the important thing,” Lawn said from her training base in Boulder, Colo.

Lawn said she had already set some different priorities this year, finding success over the 70.3 distance, which had not been her friend in recent years. She has won three times at this distance at Port Macquarie, Western Australia and Korea.

This has seen her running, traditionally the least potent of her weapons, become her friend and the key to her 70.3 victories.

“I have gone back to my old coach Chris Pilone for my running and he has really made a difference,” Lawn said. “It’s been great.”

While the new system has brought some trembles in her Ironman qualifying, on the other Lawn had easily qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.

“It was always in November after Hawaii. But it’s September and it fits with the build-up to Hawaii. I am excited. It is going to be hot and furious but it will be a lot of fun,” she said.

She is also enjoying the fresher approach to her training, principally aimed at the lesser distance.

“Right now if you were talking to me last year I would be tired and grumpy,” she said. “But we have lightened the training and aimed at quality instead.”

She won’t be changing the training system to cope with Hawaii.

“It will be interesting. But I have had more than 10 years of big mileage and hopefully that will treat me ok and the 70.3 training will mean I am faster,” Lawn said.

She will head to Kona after the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in two weeks, giving her a month to acclimatize rather than returning to prepare at altitude.

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