India Lee is part of a strong British contingent at IRONMAN 70.3 Bahrain this week as she looks to put a final flourish on her best season to date.
An obvious highlight as she’s moved into the top 15 of the PTO world rankings was her victory at Challenge’s ‘The Championship’ in Samorin in May. And last time out she notched a fine second place at IRONMAN Florida behind Skye Moench in what she calls her first ‘proper’ full-distance race.
Chatting to TRI247 ahead of Bahrain, the former WTCS athlete explained: “So it was my second Ironman, but it was the first one that I really took seriously. I did Israel last year but that was more to see if I’d like it and wanted to commit to doing one properly.
“I really enjoyed that and so I always knew at the end of this year I wanted to have a proper crack at one and Florida just worked quite well with the timings.
“I was really happy with how it went. I think I had the day that I deserved, so I was pretty chuffed.
“It’s weird because it’s like almost a completely different sport, it’s just nothing like 70.3. Learning to be patient all day was probably my biggest takeaway – I got a bit excited on the first lap of the run and I paid for it, but just about held it together.”
Back in action
She’s back down in distance in Bahrain and adds: “I do prefer middle distance at this point and I think I still want to stick to concentrating on it, but every now and then doing an Ironman.
“After Florida, I think I was on a bit of a high and I thought it would be a good idea to do another race. And then the realities of actually trying to train for a 70.3 at this time of year has been a bit trickier. But it means I’ll get Christmas off, so that’s okay!”
Preparing in the British winter has its own challenges and talking us through her training setup, she explains: “I’m based down near Winchester so I’m a bit of a lone ranger, but every now and then I’ll go up to Loughborough for a training camp for a couple of weeks.”
And her good friend and sometime training partner Kat Matthews will also be in Bahrain: “Yeah, it seems like it’s going to be quite competitive. There’s going to be quite a few Brits there, it looks a strong field.
“Kat’s there, Lucy Hall’s there, and I think Kate Curran too, there’s a good bunch of us.”
Strength in depth
There have been a succession of top middle and full-distance victories for British women this season, headlined by Lucy Charles-Barclay‘s Kona triumph, and I ask her if that strength in depth has helped drive her own progress this season, which has seen her jump from #41 to #15 in the PTO world rankings.
“Yeah, it’s super cool. If you look at the top 20 of the rankings, there’s so many of us Brits in there, which is amazing.
And then obviously watching Lucy win Kona, that was wicked. All day she was just head and shoulders above, so that was so impressive.
“I’m obviously really good friends with Kat and Ruth [Astle], and so when they do well, that’s like a real boost to me. So I hope when I do well, it’s a boost to them. To have good friends who understand it and know what it means when you get a good result, it’s really nice and does it sort of validate it a little bit in terms of your training.
“And if you surround yourself with people who are better than you then it really helps push you,” she modestly adds.
“Not long ago I had a few races where I had a bit of bad luck but I knew that I was going well in training. And because I knew who I was training with and could see that they’re getting good results, I’d think that should mean that I can do it.
“But then you always second guess yourself and you think, oh, maybe I just haven’t got it in a race. So, yeah, to finally have some good results, to back that up, it’s pretty good. It definitely gives you confidence.”
Check back next week for our in-depth interview with India as she looks ahead to continuing her progress in 2024, tells us why she can’t wait for the IRONMAN World Championship in Nice and reveals why the PTO have been a game-changer for her over the last few years.