Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Back-To-Back Champion: Rebecca Preston

By: Karen Doane

It is difficult to win an Ironman once, even more so to do it as a back-to-back champion. But that is exactly what Rebecca Preston did at Ironman Switzerland this year. That being said, perhaps Preston should be spelled P.R.E.S.S.U.R.E as she kept it on during the entire race and did so with grace.

Preston, who hails from Buderim, Australia, but trains with a team all over the world, came into this year’s event trying to do what no female has done before at Ironman Switzerland, win twice in a row. Not only that, after winning last year’s race she went to Austria two weeks later and won there, too. Of course the question on everyone’s mind now was, is she going to race in Austria in two weeks again this year?

'I’m signed up for the race, that’s all I can say for now,” smiled Preston at the awards ceremony. “Today I’m just not sure if I can answer that question, especially with my foot injury.” Injury?

“Yeah, when I was training in Thailand in April, I was running on this trail and tripped, falling on it funny, even did a great face plant,” laughed Preston. “Yeah, I did a good one but didn’t think it was hurt too badly. After a few days, though, it still really hurt so we had it checked and I had fractured it.”

This kept Preston’s running training at a minimum coming into this year’s Ironman Switzerland, with her longest run only 22km prior to the race.

“I honestly didn’t know how I would go today with my run because of my foot, “continued Preston. “I just had to give it a go.”

Not known as being a “first out of the water” swimmer, Preston was pleased with her swim of 57:09, leaving her about three minutes behind the leading women. Once on the bike she quickly charged through the men’s field in towards the lead on the bike. Preston kept the lead and extended it on the bike to come out of T2 with several minutes on both Alison Fitch and Sibylle Matter.

But the four-loop course was one of those good news, bad news type of courses, as Preston was constantly aware of Matter’s running prowess and how she was getting closer after running 21km’s.

“I could see Sibylle was running really well and I just felt terrible after 10 km,” said Preston post race. “I think my lack of nutrition on the bike had really caught up to me and I could feel my foot hurting a bit so I was having some trouble. Then I could hear that Sibylle was getting really close to me about 25 k in, and that was tough.”

Yep, there was pressure on Preston as the Swiss crowd cheered loudly for Matter as she passed Preston to move into the lead, and there she stayed for three kilometers. But Preston was ready to apply her own Aussie brand of pressure and decided then and there it was time to regain the lead and win.

“I noticed Sibylle was not moving away from me once she passed me, which was a good sign,” said Preston. “I started feeling better nutritionally and decided if I was going to win, I needed to pass her and pass her quickly. I just got there mentally and went for it.”

And went for it she did.

A quick and solid pass just after the 28 km mark soon became one minute, two minutes…and as she crossed the finish line to become the Ironman Switzerland champion for the second year in a row, she was over five minutes in front, with a finishing time of 9:20:43.

“It was great to win here again this year, especially because the day was really perfect,” smiled Preston. “I really love this race and plan to come back.”
So the question mark remains as to whether or not this Aussie athlete will try for another win in Austria.

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