Everything looked good for Laura Philipp ahead of the rescheduled 2021 IRONMAN World Championships in May of this year, but when Covid hit her on the very day she was due to fly to the US compete at St George, Utah she was devastated.
“In the past I was usually stopped by injuries,” Philipp explained when chatting to Bob Babbitt on the iconic ‘Breakfast with Bob from Kona’ (embedded below).
“I had a very good preparation and then on the day where we wanted to fly out to the US I started to get first symptoms of Covid.
“I did a test immediately and it turned out positive. From that moment on it took me 11 days to test negative again and, of course St George, the dream to race there, was gone.”
Hungrier than ever
Philipp had pivoted everything around the IRONMAN World Championships, and to have had her shot at glory taken away by the very virus that had cancelled the 2020 edition and postponed the 2021 instalment felt cruel.
Yet regardless, three years on from her fourth-place finish at Kona in the 2019 IRONMAN World Championships she has returned to the island of Hawaii safe in the knowledge she has every chance of victory.
“It feels so good, I can’t describe it,” the German said, smiling.
“It’s been a while, nearly three years, and the fourth place definitely left me hungry. I said immediately after it finished I want to come back next year and do better, I want to make it on the podium, and then I had to wait three years to finally return.”
Having missed out on St. George, Philipp returned to competing as soon as she was able to, taking the opportunity to race on home soil at IRONMAN Hamburg.
I want to make it on the podium
There, she didn’t just win in front of a home crowd but dominated, missing out on the women’s distance record by just seven seconds,
“I surprised myself,” she said.
“I think it was six weeks after having Covid. I was very unsure about my form, but I was so hungry to race – it was my revenge for missing St George I wanted to race and show that I’m in good form.
“It was a very special experience to race in Germany with the home crowd and to be able to produce such a performance.”
Hamburg demonstrated Philipp at her best, and she knows that if she is all too aware that if she was able to repeat such a performance at Kona there are few, if any, who could stop her from claiming an IRONMAN World Championship.
“It would mean the world [to win],” she admitted.
“There are so little people that can actually make it to win Hawaii and to be one of them would be a dream come true.
“I use this race as a daily motiviation, and to have my best day on this island would just be incredible.”