x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi Triathlon Team's Rachel Joyce earns first Ironman title

The Briton dominates in Lanzarote, Spain, finishing almost 15 minutes ahead of her closest competitor.

Rachel Joyce of the Abu Dhabi Triathlon Team earned her first Ironman victory with a dominant performance on the weekend in Lanzarote, Spain.

Joyce led the women's field throughout the event and finished almost 15 minutes ahead of the closest competitor. Her time of 9 hours, 28 minutes, 12 seconds was only three and a half minutes off the course record.

The 32-year-old British athlete had finished second in Ironman South Africa the previous week and was a late entry into the Canary Islands event.

"It felt great to get my first Ironman win," Joyce said. "I was actually in Lanzarote to train and I just felt really good before the weekend so decided to enter. It was a spur of the moment choice and one I am glad I made."

The course included a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42km run.

Joyce dominated from the start, with a powerful opening swim that put her in first place at the bike transition. With a terrain climbing 2,551 metres and a hot cross-wind to contend with, second-place Natascha Badmann, a six-time Ironman champion, trimmed Jpyce's lead to under five minutes during the ride.

But Joyce stretched her lead by setting a course record in the marathon run.

"I still cannot believe I got the new run course record. I have my coach Matt Dixon to thank for that," she said. "I ran nearly half an hour quicker than I did here two years ago."

Joyce, who is backed by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, was injured for much of the 2010 season and spent her winter training in the UAE with her team-mates. With the victory in Lanzarote, she gained an automatic entry into the season-ending Ironman Hawaii world championships in October.

"The race was pretty relaxed and there was no pressure on me, which allowed me to race as I wanted," she said. "I knew it was a tough field and that Natascha would be pushing hard but I just went out and raced against myself and it worked.

"I had a perfect day. I never had to slow down and I had no problems. You can't ask for more."

Germany's Timo Bracht won the men's competition with a course record time of 8 hours, 30 minutes, 34 seconds. He trailed countryman Konstatin Bachor after the bike race, but ran the marathon in 2hours, 47minutes, 20seconds to pull away from the field and win easily.