Chrissie Wellington’s victory at the 2007 Ironman World Championship put her name on the triathlon map, and she has since become the fastest iron-distance woman in history. But her road to triathlon success came as just as much a surprise to Wellington as it did to the rest of the world. In A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey (Center Street/Hachette Book Group, $24.99), she recounts her unlikely journey from an accident-prone child, through struggling with body image, then climbing the career ladder in the UK government and doing development work in Nepal, all before becoming a four-time Ironman world champion. “I don’t think I’d ever struck anyone as world-champion material,” she writes.
The book could be characterized as a memoir, but it’s also part travel diary (she shares anecdotes from her world travels), and part training tips (including a sample training week and her race-day routine). Although she projects a constantly smiling superstar in the triathlon spotlight, she’s dealt with her fair share of anger and sadness throughout her career. She delves into some of her more personal challenges—she’s candid about her struggles with bulimia and anorexia, and about her complicated coach-athlete relationship with Brett Sutton. The darkest moments in her training and racing are described in detail, giving the reader a sense of Wellington’s incredible willpower and refined mental skills. Like many athletes, she enjoys her routine and has concerns about things like getting into a serious relationship. But unlike many athletes, Wellington’s super human talent and passion for humanitarianism puts her in a league of her own.
The book wasn’t written for triathletes alone; Wellington’s journey will motivate any reader to aspire beyond their perceived limitations.