By David Stewart
If disappointment, misfortune and frustration motivate Rebekah Keat, the crowd at the 2010 SunSmart Ironman Western Australia better get ready to witness a blistering performance from this Ironman champion. Keat is lining up in an attempt to finish her season on a high after her Ford Ironman World Championship bid last month ended with a heartbreaking Did Not Finish.
Add to that the thought that surely can’t be far from her mind – her first return to the race that dramatically changed her life and career six years ago â€“ and she should have more than enough ammunition to take a shot at Gina Ferguson’s 2008 course record, 8:59:20.
In 2004, Keat took just nine hours and two minutes to become the first woman to win Ironman Western Australia. But her elation was short-lived; a positive drug test returned after the race saw her handed a two-year ban from the sport. During that time she faced depression, was hit by a car and launched the lengthy and costly legal battle that would eventually clear her name and prove that a contaminated nutritional supplement was to blame for the banned substance.
Remarkably Keat won two Ironman races in her comeback season and continued to earn a name for herself as one of the world’s best female long-distance triathletes.
But misfortune hit again in 2009 when she was disqualified from the Ford Ironman World Championship under dubious circumstances. Overcoming that disappointment and ready to return with a vengeance in 2010, she was only 60 kilometres into the bike course when she succumbed to severe cramping caused by a sciatic injury.
â€œThat’s why I am racing (SunSmart Ironman Western Australia),â€ Keat admitted. â€œI don’t feel I finished on a high after such a fantastic season – I want to finish with a win obviously!â€ With the exception of Hawaii it has been a successful year for the 32-year-old, who finished runner-up at Challenge Wanaka, Challenge Roth and Ironman Australia, and won Challenge Copenhagen.
Two months ago she would have said she was ready to break the Busselton course record too. â€œHowever with some sciatic problems and leg problems I haven’t done the training I would have liked since Hawaii,â€ she said. â€œI am sure it will be close though if there is good weather and it’s not too hot and windy. â€œI think it’s a fast course too and very flat obviously but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.â€
However having watched her rip up the course in Shepparton Campbells Half Ironman and set a new course record there things are looking good for Keat.
Hoping to spoil her party will be Kate Bevilaqua, it will be her fifth Ironman this year and second in less than eight weeks. â€œThis year has been one of the biggest years I’ve had, mainly because I was injured for a year and-a-half, so I’ve gone from one extreme to the other because I was so excited to be back,â€ said the 33-year-old from Perth.
â€œI was tired in Hawaii, fatigued, but there was no way I was not going to race at Busselton. â€œBusselton is my home crowd, that’s why I love it. Like any triathlon community everyone knows everyone and it’s great to be out on the course with so many people you know. â€œMy parents do come to my races in the states but with this one all my extended family can come.â€
In an impressive comeback year, Bevilaqua put in solid performances at Ironman New Zealand, Ironman Lanzarote, Ironman Lake Placid, the Ford Ironman World Championship, Ironman 70.3 Cancun and was runner-up at the Busselton Half Ironman earlier this year. â€œSo the fitness is there, I’m just keeping things light and easy between races, but I think you always find an extra gear when you’re racing at home,â€ she said. â€œEvery time I start a race I’m always aiming for the podium and (SunSmart Ironman Western Australia) is no different. I want to improve my performance and times from last year. I’m focusing on the run, which I’ve been building up again over the year from injury. â€œI will take a break after Busselton, but I wanted to finish my season off with a good performance.â€