TORTURE TEST: Fearless Ipswich competitor Kym Jaenke powers on at the hot and windy Hawaii Ironman championship despite a nasty fall.
TORTURE TEST: Fearless Ipswich competitor Kym Jaenke powers on at the hot and windy Hawaii Ironman championship despite a nasty fall. Contributed

Ipswich spirit drives Jaenke

A LESSER athlete would have climbed into the ambulance and called it a day.

But not Ipswich competitor Kym Jaenke.

It was the toughest sporting challenge on earth in conditions that blew Jaenke off her bike.

For a few minutes, crash victim Jaenke contemplated her predicament. She was even told by a course official to wait for the ambulance to arrive.

But nothing was going to stop the fearless ironwoman who possessed Ipswich's famous fighting spirit.

With skin off her shoulder and arms, and dents in her helmet, she regathered her thoughts.

Through sheer mental courage, Jaenke rode on and finished her world championship event in nine hours, 53 minutes and 18 seconds.

Jaenke, 35, had conquered the notorious Hawaii Ironman.

But finishing wasn't her only achievement. After her remarkable recovery, Jaenke came second in her age group.

"I'm absolutely stoked to go under 10 hours on this course," she said, reflecting on her epic performance.

"I came over here with no expectations because you hear all the horror stories about the Hawaii Ironman and the wind and the heat and everything.

"Probably deep down, I did want to get top five or 10 maybe, so to come away with second and first amateur overall was probably beyond what I thought I was capable of."

She had earlier survived a 3.8km swim among 2000 starters, before her accident-marred 180km bike ride. She ran a marathon distance run leg to finish her day's work.

"It's probably a good thing I'm so determined and stubborn," Jaenke said yesterday, still in Kona where she crashed to the lava-created ground.

"The race officials wanted to call an ambulance and wanted me to get checked out."

Jaenke was 120km into her 180km bike ride when a gust of Hawaiian wind forced her to lose grip on her handlebars. She was sent flying.

"The winds get up to between 60 and 100km an hour," she said.

"I was down on the aerobars and didn't have as much control as I would have if I was holding on to the handlebars and just got pushed to the side.

"I had a couple of minutes picking myself up off the dirt and regathering the confidence to go on.

"The first thing I thought as I laid on the dirt was I didn't want to move. I didn't know what I had broken."

However, years of training at Limestone Park and riding on her own for hours at a time paid off.

The former world triathlon champion found her inner-strength.

"It slowed me down and made me more cautious for the last third of the bike ride," she said.

"It was always at the back of my mind whether I'd done a bit of damage to my legs and hip area."

Ironically, refocusing allowed her to complete a remarkable final leg.

"I ran better than I've ever run before," she said.

"Looking back, I had dirt on me and skin off my shoulder and arms but made the whole day more pleasing in a way."

"Playing the tourist and leading a normal life" in Kona yesterday, Jaenke was still sore from her ordeal. But she was relieved she had escaped without any broken bones.

Asked if you she would do the Hawaiian event again, Jaenke paused before replying: "I'm not going to answer that one just yet."

The client manager with Harding Martin Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors in Ipswich is planning to return home this weekend.



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