Queenstown triathlete Fiona Gallagher’s buzzing after finishing a better-than-expected fifth-fastest female in her pro debut at last Saturday’s Tauranga Half in Mount Maunganui.
In ‘‘stinking hot’’ conditions, the 29-year-old crossed in 4 hours 31 minutes, less than 24 minutes behind the winner, and collected $250 into the bargain.
To race in a field including three of the world’s top-50 female triathletes was ‘‘huge and such an experience’’, she says.
‘‘It was the best experience I’ve ever had, I loved it.’’
Having competed in age-group categories in the past two Tauranga Halfs — finishing fastest female amateur last year — Gallagher says competing in an elite-only field was a whole different experience.
‘‘You’re not drafting off people all day, which definitely happens in age-group racing, especially on that bike course.’’
She’s now motivated to stick with pro racing.
‘‘It’s great, obviously, winning age-group racing, but I think I’m better off coming maybe in the bottom half of some professional races for a year or two, and actually growing and learning as an athlete, and then that’s how I’m going to get better.’’
She’ll still continue her day job as a council lawyer, for now — ‘‘I’m not in that position [to leave]’’.
‘‘If I can pick up some sponsors I’d definitely work less, but that’s a dream.’’