Lieutenant Natalie Davies has qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in October after excelling in her first ironman event.
Lieutenant Davies, of HMAS Albatross, was one of three Navy personnel selected for the world championships after excelling at the Asia Pacific Ironman Championships in Melbourne.
She said it was a great thrill to compete and qualify for the event in Kona, which is regarded as the holy grail of triathlons.
“It was my first attempt at an ironman, so my overall goal was to finish the race,” she said.
“Crossing the finish line was a moment I will never forget,” she said.
“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to compete at Kona this year; I can’t wait for the thrill and challenge of competing.”
Her race time over the 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42km marathon run was 14hr 14min 8sec (1:03.49, 6:25.55 and 6:37.24).
Lieutenant Davies was the first military female competitor to finish in the under 30s category, and the third military female overall.
Although sustaining an injury on the last 20km of the bike event, Lieutenant Davies persevered and was rewarded with a qualifying spot for Kona.
“It was disappointing to sustain a leg injury on race day after all the training; it also made for a very long marathon.”
The other two Navy personnel to qualifty were Able Seaman Kevin McEwan, of Australian Clearance Diving Team 4, and Lieutenant Commander Mark Northcote, of HMAS Waterhen.
The trio was among eight members of the Australian Defence Triathlon Club who qualified for the world championships in the military division.
A total of 23 Defence triathletes competed alongside 2,000 competitors in the Melbourne championships on 22 March. The event challenged each competitor to conquer a total distance of 226km, with the cut-off time being 17 hours.
The ironman event featured a new military division, where Defence members competed against other service personnel from the region for 10 spots at Kona.
The event started with the 3.8km swim adjacent to Frankston pier, which was completed by Lieutenant Commander Northcote in 54min and 22sec, which was the fastest time by a Defence triathlon competitor.
The cut off for the swim time was 240min.
The 180km bike ride was conducted as four 45km laps along the Eastlink Freeway, from Frankston to Ringwood and back.
Able Seaman McEwan was the fastest Defence competitor over both the bike leg and marathon distance run, clocking 4:53.03 for the cycle and 3:54.50 for the run. He completed the course in a time of 9hr 49min 31sec.
He was followed by Lieutenant Commander Northcote, who clocked 10hr 27 min 45sec (54.22, 5:02.14, 4:25.34), while Chief Petty Officer Drew Mitchell placed third with 10hr 49min 56sec (1:01.11, 5:09.13, 4:24.12).
Lieutenant Commander Northcote overcame severe cramping in his leg to achieve his life-long ambition of qualifying for Kona.
“At the 30km of the marathon my legs had locked due to the continually cramping and the world championship spot looked as good as gone,” he said.
“At about this point I saw my wife on course, who was able to track me online, and she said I still had a lead from the swim and bike events.
“At this point I decided it was Kona or bust.”
Lieutenant Commander Northcote staggered to the finish, where he was placed in a wheelchair and taken to the medical tent for treatment.
“I had lost 6kg in weight and was severely cramping and suffering muscle spasms throughout my body,” he said.
After four hours in the medical tent he was released, but it was not until the next day he learnt he had qualified for Kona.
The next big event for the Australian Defence Triathlon Club is the Cairns 5150, 70.3 and Ironman races in June.
For more details visit the website at www.defence-triathlon.asn.au