I’m not even sure how to put into words in a short paragraph or two (or a few I can waffle) to round up my emotions of winning my first ever Professional triathlon.

The nerves, excitement and anticipation of the race were building rapidly in Puerto Del Carmen in race week. The winds were pumping so so high, leaving everyone debating kit choice and constantly refreshing the weather app! As race day came, the winds hadn’t dropped a lot. We set off on what was to be the toughest conditions (apparently!) that IRONMAN Lanzarote has ever faced.

I was prepped, ready and raring to go. I’d had a fab winters training behind me and with just one female and one male Kona slot being available it was set to be an intense race. Ironman Lanzarote is renowned as one of the most iconic and challenging Ironman events, and with a win giving a guaranteed spot for the World Champs the pressure was on.

Swim: One mass crazy start! The Pros lined up at the front with 2,000 Age Groupers directly behind. The beach is lined with thousands of buzzing spectators, with the gun going off at first light. The swim itself is absolute carnage, you get completely battered! Halfway through the swim, you get out for an Aussie Exit to start the second lap, as soon as you leave the water you’re hit by a roar of cheers. I came out in 6th position in 58mins, pleased with the result despite the more challenging sea swim conditions. At this point, I was around 5mins off the race leader but coming into my strengths.

Bike: Heading out onto the 180k bike course was an experience, with over 8,000ft of climbing in howling wind. It was a matter of patience and staying in your own bubble. And staying on your bike! There’s absolutely no shelter on the course, so in those crosswinds, you could easily get blown off into the lava. My race plan went perfectly, and at about 55k into the bike I found myself in the lead. I felt in control and took in the scenery and crowd support. The course is relentless and if you go off too hard or don’t get your nutrition right then it’s game over. I came off the bike with a 7/8min lead. Perfect!

Into t2 which took me a while, from one female problem to another 😜.

Run: I knew if I stayed within myself, that this race now was mine to lose. The wind was still so strong, and at times around the big 20k loop, you wondered if you were actually moving. The heat was intense and there was absolutely no cloud cover whatsoever, so conditions were making the already tough course even harder!

With the help of my ace support team and the epic crowds, I managed to take my first ever win, on what is known as one of the toughest, most iconic courses in the world. To be crowned IRONMAN Lanzarote Champion is a dream come true. I keep waking up at night thinking it’s all a dream, but luckily, I woke up with aches, soreness and memories for a lifetime. One of, if not the best, days of my life.

Written by Nikki Bartlett