The triathlon community was stunned on October 9 when it was announced that three-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington would not be taking the start line to defend her championship. With one of the most dominant figures in the sport on the sidelines, Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae earned the coveted title of 2010 Ironman world champion. Triathlete.com chatted with Wellington to talk about the decision, what’s next for her and how she feels about some of the rumors that have been circulating since the race.
Triathlete.com: How are you feeling about that decision you had to make on race day?
Chrissie Wellington: As I reflect, I know that I made the best decision at that particular point. Others may have not made the same decision that I did. My old coach Brett Sutton said pick and stick. He said once you make a decision, you have to stick with it. The fact that I still don’t feel 100 percent is indicative to me that had I raced I would have been in a much worse situation. I’m content with the decision that I made. It was incredibly disappointing and frustrating. I’ve had to deal with the highs and lows that have come this year. I know in my heart that on race day I would not have been capable of producing the race that I trained so hard for. It’s my responsibility to get to the start line healthy and I did not.
Triathlete.com: What have you learned from dealing with both the wrist injury and this illness in the same year?
Wellington: I’ve learned to deal with setbacks. These have been two major hurdles that I’ve had to overcome. Ultimately I need to learn from them and grow stronger. I’m more than a triathlete. Regardless of my performance in training and in racing, I need to retain that perspective and bear in mind that I have more in life than triathlon. I’ve come across triathlon hurdles but I have so many other things to be positive about. It’s made me appreciate friends, family and sponsors who have been so supportive. It’s made me be kind to myself. I’m often my own worse critic. Hopefully these mental lessons will enable me to perform even better in the future.
Triathlete.com: Tell me about your decision to race Ironman Arizona over other fall races?
Wellington: I chose Arizona for a number of reasons. (Ironman) Florida would have been too early because I still don’t feel 100 percent. I have to be 100 percent healthy. The second reason was the fact that I want to go back to the UK as soon as I can. Ironman Cozumel and Ironman Western Australia are a little too late for me. I’ve got my fitness. The field at Arizona is probably the strongest of the four. It’s not as strong as Kona, but it’s important for me to race as many fast girls as I can. Also, the crowd support sounds awesome. I’ve heard the three loops on the bike and the run are very spectator-friendly. For those reasons I chose Arizona. I’m also in Boulder right now, so that really limits the distance I have to travel.
Triathlete.com: Did you consider going to Clearwater for the Ironman World Championship 70.3 race?
Wellington: Ironman is what I train for. I considered it, but I want to do justice to the Ironman training that I’ve done. While I enjoy the 70.3 races. I still feel that I enjoy Ironman the most. I think that if I did a 70.3, I’d still want to do the Ironman just for the challenge.
Triathlete.com: What’s the plan for the next month leading up to the race?
Wellington: The plan is to get back into a routine and get healthy. For me consistency is key. I want to make sure I’m healthy. I want to make sure my fitness is as good as I thought it was going to Kona.
Triathlete.com: What’s the plan for 2011? You’ve been loyal to the Challenge Roth race—do you have plans to race in other non-WTC events next year?
Wellington: I haven’t made any race plans. I always have my off-season and then I plan next year. I want to support WTC races and non-WTC races. I want to do varying distances. The firm race plans haven’t been made yet.
Triathlete.com: Anything else?
Wellington: I do want to address some of the rumors that have been going around. I’ve deliberately not been reading the websites and the forums, but the rumors have come back to me. Some of them are laughable, like the fact that I’m pregnant. Others are more defamatory. That I was in someway avoiding the more stringent drug testing procedure is ludicrous to me. I’ve applauded what the WTC is doing. I’ve been blood tested five times this year, urine tested 10 times. I was tested the Tuesday before the race. To suggest that I didn’t race because of a drug test is ludicrous and insulting. I think it undermines my credibility and the other female athletes that do so well. It undermines my position as a role model and as an ambassador of the sport.
I also want to congratulate Rinny and all of the girls on the top 10. I was really sad to not be a part of it. I’ve spoken to Julie and have e-mailed Rinny the day after the race to say well done and to say enjoy it. Told her to take the time and enjoy what she’s achieved.