By PHILIP CHANDLER
Attempting her first half ironman just over two years ago, Queenstowner Fiona Gallagher crashed her bike and broke her collarbone.
Undeterred, late last month the 27-year-old convincingly won her age group and was fourth-fastest female amateur in her first full ironman, Taupo’s Ironman New Zealand, finishing in 10hr 12min 33sec.
She was able to relax on the second leg of the two-leg run — a marathon itself — as she already led the next woman in her age group by over half an hour.
‘‘I cried for the last 5km because I knew it was actually going to happen.
‘‘I had so many friends there, my partner and my coach, just there to support me — it was awesome but very, very emotional.’’
Gallagher had shown she was on target for Taupo when finishing second in her age group in the Tauranga Half in January.
She also won a special trophy, the Tony O’Hagan Cup, recognising the obstacles she’d overcome getting to the start-line.
Then, like all Taupo entrants, she had to overcome the inconvenience of having the event postponed for three weeks due to Covid restrictions.
‘‘Mentally it was really, really hard.’’
By winning her age group, she qualified for the world champs in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but Gallagher says she’s turned down her slot due to the cost involved — potentially $30,000 to $40,000, including quarantining.
At this stage, she’ll probably compete in November’s Queenstown Marathon and December’s half ironman in Taupo.
The latter’s a qualifier for the world half ironman at the same venue a year later.
A former competitive swimmer in her native Ireland, Gallagher says you have to enjoy triathlon to do well ‘‘because your weekends are basically taken away ‘cos you’re just putting all the hours into training’’.
Among other locals competing in Taupo, Paul Preston, 35, finished second in his age group
and 13th-best amateur, McKenzie Edgar, 29, was ninth in her age group and Clint Williams had to pull out.