Not since the great Paula Newby-Fraser has the world seen a woman dominate the most challenging single day endurance event known to man, an Ironman triathlon. Three-time Ironman World Champion, Chrissie Wellington has claimed victory in every single Ironman she has started.
The woman from Great Britain currently holds the record for the fastest Ironman time in Kona. She ran an 8:54:02 in 2009. It was her third consecutive victory on the Big Island. She was unable to defend her title in 2010 due to an illness but in 2011 she set the ‘world’ record for the fastest Iron distance race at Challenge Roth in Germany. She did that by breaking her own world record from the year before, also at Challenge Roth. Wellington crossed the line as the first woman but also the fifth overall finisher in a time of 8:18:13 (Swim 49:49, Bike 4:40:39, Run 2:44:35).
But on Monday, less than 12 days before the 2011 Ironman World Championship, a rumor was posted on the popular triathlon blog, EvermanTri.com that Wellington might not race in Kona due to a bike crash in Boulder, Colorado. Turns out, that rumor was true.
EMT posted this account from an eye witness to the crash:
“I was literally right behind her. I was riding a flat road with three men and one looked over his shoulder and said “we are about to be absorbed by the peloton.” Suddenly, Chrissie was leading a pack of five men. She was riding next to another man – pulling 4 behind them (2 by 2).
They flew by us. We picked up the pace to catch their wheels. By that time – she was in 2nd position and two men were leading into a left hand turn. She took the turn pretty hot and I watched her front wheel just slide out from under her and she went sliding down. The guy right behind her grabbed his breaks and fish tailed. He hit her back wheel (which was now lying on the ground) and he went down too. I swerved around them.
A number of cars stopped as well. She got up right away but clearly had lost skin on her left arm and leg. My little four pack continued riding. We were all heading out on a popular ride (from Boulder to Carter Lake). My group stopped at Carter Lake to get water. We saw the four men that had been riding with Chrissie go flying by the General Store. She was no longer with them. Neither was the guy that crashed right behind her.
They did a big loop (very popular to add distance to this ride) and circled back to Boulder – and passed us on the way home as well. We didn’t do the extra back loop. With the loop – they were probably out on an 80+ mile ride. I was only out for about 70 and they still caught us on the way home. They were all flying in aerobars.
It didn’t look like she broke anything – just lost skin. We rode past the crash area on the way home – it wasn’t sandy or gritty. I think she just took the turn too fast/sharply. It didn’t look to me as though she hit the guy’s wheel in front of her.”
Wellington confirmed the accident on her @chrissiesmiles twitter account today, much to the relief of her many fans and supporters.
@chrissiesmiles – Life throws you curve balls. The key is to bounce those balls right back.
@chrissiesmiles -The body is capable of amazing things. I WILL be on the start line. Thanks to all who contacted me: your words truly are healing wounds. :)
@chrissiesmiles – And plus, at least my skin matches the colour of my race kit. :)
@chrissiesmiles – Long story short: Front flat tyre, cornered, came off, nothing broken, very battered, bruised and bloody. But still full of fight.
Great news for Chrissie, not so great for her competition. You can follow Chrissie on her personal website, ChrissieWellington.org. To follow the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championship live on race day, log onto IronmanLIVE.com.