To many, Chrissie Wellington is the real Iron Lady.
Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon, and Chrissie, 35, is now the reigning and four times World Champion.
She is a patron of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and says that Jane was one of her biggest inspirations.
In 2004, when Chrissie completed her first triathlon, despite never having sat on a road bike, Jane Tomlinson completed the Florida Ironman, becoming the first terminally-ill person to complete the event.
“I’ve been inspired by Jane ever since I saw her on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Her courage and bravery in the face of such adversity really moved me and when Mike asked me to be a patron of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal I was honoured,” says Chrissie who has just announced she is taking a year out from Ironman to concentrate on her charity work and to promote her autobiography.
“Jane did so much to raise the profile of Ironman especially here in the UK. Jane’s unwavering determination, strength courage and selflessness in the face of adversity is an inspiration to each and every one of us. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to play a part in making sure that Jane’s memory and legacy lives in the great work of the appeal.”
Chrissie herself was a pretty late developer when in comes to Ironman, a sport which is going from strength to strength. In fact, she had never even heard of it when someone suggested she give it a go.
She grew up in Norfolk and although she loved sport from an early age and was a member of most school sports teams, she was more focused on her studies.
She graduated from Birmingham University in 1998, and went travelling for two years before completing a MA in Development Studies at Manchester University and securing a job as a policy adviser to the Government on international development and environment policy.
While working in Nepal she developed a love of mountain biking and she believes cycling the Himalayas gave her the mental and physical strength which would make her a four-times world champion.
On her return to the UK, Chrissie was determined to concentrate more on triathlons, eventually increasing her triathlon distance from super sprint to Ironman. She won her first Ironman in August 2007 in Korea and two months later became World Ironman Champion in Kona, Hawaii.
Chrissie admits to thriving on pushing her body to its limits, and her training regime is extraordinary. So too is her passion to utilise the power to influence others which can come with being a world-class athlete.
“I feel very strongly that as a professional triathlete my impact and message should be wider than my performance on the race course, and last longer than my athletic career,” she says.
“Champions come and go, but to me the real judge of my success will be whether I actually do something positive with the opportunities I have been given, and I sincerely hope that, as World Champion, I can be a role model and ambassador for the sport that everyone can be proud of. I will try never to take for granted the opportunities I have to encourage others, to increase participation in triathlon and other sports.
“Equally as important to me, is raising the profile of issues and causes that are dear to my heart, including the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.”
Marking Jane’s marathon
Chrissie Wellington will join Mike and Rebecca Tomlinson in a challenge to mark the 10th anniversary of Jane Tomlinson running the London Marathon. They will run both the Paris (April 15) and London (April 22) marathons with six days of cycling thrown in between for good measure. Chrissie will join Mike and Rebecca as they cycle back to Yorkshire before setting off on a two-day tour en route to the capital. To donate: http://www. justgiving.com/anniversarychallenge.