Laura Philipp hailed her own resilience after she finished fourth at the IRONMAN World Championship despite receiving a five-minute penalty on the bike.
The German was right in the mix with most of the other leading contenders following the swim in Hawaii, but the sanction left her isolated and with a mentally challenging ride.
Kona debutant Chelsea Sodaro eventually went on to secure victory, with Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay and Germany’s Anne Haug completing the podium.
Philipp crossed the line in 8:50:31, around 17 minutes behind USA’s Sodaro and just over eight minutes adrift of her compatriot, and after the race she admitted that her promising start left her confident of challenging for honours.
“My day started perfectly,” Philipp said in the post-race press conference. “I felt very comfortable on the swim, the pace was not too fast, but I saw myself surrounded by Daniela Ryf and also Anne Haug was in that group.
“So I thought that’s just great, I will get the chance to ride [with that group]. Especially with Daniela, that was something I was dreaming of.
“The start of the bike was great, I felt really good. I think we pushed proper power.”
However, Philipp was dealt a devastating blow as she was one of several to be hit with a drafting penalty on the bike, which left her cut off from the chasing group.
“Then unfortunately one of the referee ladies decided to give me a five-minute penalty,” she said. “She didn’t let me know what it was for but I guess it was that I was drafting, in her opinion.
“That really upset me to be honest. I had to take it quite early in the bike, I think around 50km. Five minutes can be very long, especially when you feel like you didn’t deserve it.
“From that moment on it was hard to get back into the race rhythm and, of course, also the momentum from being in that group and feeling super good.”
Although it proved to be frustrating day for Philipp, she commended her own mental fortitude to brush off the disappointment of the penalty and put in a strong finish to the race, with her run time of 3:01:32 the fourth fastest of the day.
“It is a first-time experience for me to be in a mentally challenging situation like this and I’m proud of myself that I was able to continue,” she said.
“I continued to push on the bike, I was very lonely out there from that moment on and the roads do get longer when you’re so lonely.
“For me it was a bit similar, maybe like for Anne – I burned quite a few matches on the bike and I didn’t really have the run legs today, like I did in Hamburg for example, where I also pushed hard on the bike.
“But this course is definitely different, the conditions are different.”
“I think at the end I made the best out of my situation so I’m proud to be able to sit here with these fast and strong ladies.”
Philipp, who was applaudably gracious in spite of her misfortune, gave “huge congratulations” to Sodaro, as she recalled their battle at IRONMAN Hamburg in June, the Kona winner’s first ever full IRONMAN.
“I saw her debut there and from that moment on, I knew she’s a new rising star, so I’m very happy to see her win here today,” she added.