Laura Siddall has admitted 2021 could have been her final year in triathlon as the four-time IRONMAN champion battled with her confidence following a string of bad injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Siddall, who suffered a broken collarbone in May 2019, has admitted she headed to Challenge Roth in September feeling ‘flat’. At the age of 41 she even wondered if it was time to step back from the sport.
However, Laura went on to finish second in Bavaria – recording her first sub-three-hour marathon in the process during a race which felt like a huge win.
Future in doubt
Reflecting on her year in an Instagram post, she admitted: “I really thought that 2021 might be my last year as a competitor. I’d always felt unbreakable but 2 broken collar bones, a calf tear & the pandemic.
“I loved seeing women taking the sport to new levels but I felt like it was moving on without me.
“Challenge Roth in September, my comeback race. I should have been buzzing to see friends & my homestay family again. But I felt flat. At 41, was I too injured, too old?”
Rising to the Challenge
Feeling a sense of doubt as she stood on the starting line, Siddall struggled to keep up with the leaders on the swim. She would finish the leg with the 12th fastest time (58:26), over six minutes behind fellow Brit Fenella Langridge.
“By T1 I was way down, fumbling with my race suit as riders disappeared up the road,” said Siddall.
“Lost seconds meant hours of catch-up. I tried to stay calm, find my rhythm. As the km’s clicked away I started to catch people but it all felt too late.
“A better T2 & I was in 6th but the leaders seemed too far ahead. I tried to find my run legs, chipping away. Until the long grinding canal straight at 10km. No sign of the leaders & suddenly someone right behind me. Where did she come from? I was in no-mans land, my leg starting to cramp & no hope in view. It felt like the end of the line.”
Despite being in ‘no-man’s land’, Laura – buoyed on by support from familiar faces in the crowd – would produce a terrific running performance to clock 2:58:43.
She said: “At 30km familiar faces in the crowd, my homestay family, shouting splits. I was gaining. I forced a smile, trying to provoke the endorphins to lift me. Then I saw 2nd & 3rd, only a few 100m ahead, suffering too. I pushed on, managed to take 3rd.
“At 5km I took 2nd but didn’t dare to believe that I could hold on, could she surge back? Until the stadium, finally the line in my grasp & the Roth family & friends there at the line. The tears came from nowhere as I crossed in 2nd, a mix of relief & disbelief. Not a win, but felt like it after these past years.”
After that brilliant renaissance in Roth, Siddall followed up by ending 2021 with another excellent performance to claim fifth at CLASH Daytona.
The Brit produced possibly her best ever swim with a time of 27:54, the eighth fastest in the race, before going on to record 1:55:39 on the bike and a 1:09:40 run for an overall time of 3:35:41.
Laura has now vowed to continue her form into the New Year as she says goodbye to a difficult 2021.
She said: “2021 has been all about not giving up, & how much the support from others matters. So thank you so much for yours this year, it kept me going in no-man’s land.
“Please stick with me in 2022, I’m excited about the possibilities ahead. There’s more to come…”