Seven-time Ironman New Zealand champion Joanna Lawn has secured the last qualifying spot for October’s Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
She will join fellow kiwis Cameron Brown and Samantha Warriner for the 35th Ironman World Championships on 8 October at Kona-Kailua.
The new qualifying system will result in a reduced 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 females who secured their places at the first deadline on 31 July, and so had to wait a further month for the cut for the final five places.
She had a solid fifth placing in the high priority Ironman Europe 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 yesterday (NZ time).
“It was been a bit stressful with the new points system and watching all the results yesterday. It’s really 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.
Lawn said that she had already set some different priorities this year, finding success over the 70.3 or Half Ironman 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 a 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. It’s been great.”
While the new system brought some trembles in her Ironman qualifying, on the other side of the coin 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 this year and it fits with the build-up to Hawaii. Actually I set a plan in place to do the 70.3 Worlds and also the ITU Worlds on the same course in November.
“So if Hawaii had not happened then I had something to look forward to. I am excited to do all three. It is going to be hot and furious but it will be a lot of fun.”
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. But we have lightened the training and aimed at quality instead.”
She won’t be changing the training system to cope with the extra mileage in 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.”
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 in Boulder.