Bellshill-based triathlon star Shona Girdwood battled a testing, steep course to book a world championship place by winning her class at this month’s Barcelona 70.3 Half Ironman competition.
Shona (47), who is originally from Rosebank, won the 45-49 years women’s race and was 11th female overall in a gruelling race featuring a 1900m swim, 90km bike ride and 21km half marathon.
“I was chuffed with such a positive result at the age of 47,” Shona said. “I felt really strong the whole way through the race.
“There were 52 women in my class but I was 17 minutes ahead of the next one to finish, which I was absolutely delighted about.
“My main goal had been to get on the podium because it was a really strong field. So I was absolutely ecstatic to win, I couldn’t believe it.
“The course suited me because the bike section – which had 1300m of climbing – was really tough. But I’m good at the climbing.
“That was the hilliest triathlon course I’ve ever competed on and I was exhausted at the finish.”
Shona said she drank three 750ml bottles of water during the race to stay hydrated; she was happy to take on more fluid and a drink in the finishing tent after the race’s conclusion.
“I recovered really well from the race because I have really good fitness,” added Shona, who works as a full-time sports development officer for South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture.
Shona, who started doing half ironman events two years ago, trained for 16 hours a week in preparation for the Barcelona race.
Also competing in Spain was her husband Jim, who beat her five hours 34 minutes finishing time by 10 minutes.
The pair will next be in racing action together at the Edinburgh 70.3 Half Ironman on July 3, an event which is the first of its kind to be staged in Scotland.
Shona’s great form in Spain came just a year after illness and injury blighted a disappointing 2016 campaign.
But the appointment of new coach Mark Livesly – a replacement for Graeme Stewart – last October gave Shona a welcome boost.
Winning her age group in Spain has qualified Shona for the world championships in Tennessee on September 9.
She said: “That is going to be really tough as it will be the world’s best athletes in my age group who are competing, but I’d like to see if I can go there and get a place in the top 10.”