Rachel Joyce’s Nail-Biting Push to Qualify for Kona

Kona contender Rachel Joyce propelled herself up the Kona Pro Ranking list with a victory at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Kona contender Rachel Joyce propelled herself up the Kona Pro Ranking list with a victory at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce has had great success at the Ironman World Championship, finishing on the podium in 2013 (second), 2014 (third) and 2015 (second), and she’s spent second half of the 2017 season fighting to earn enough points to make the start list after taking all off all of 2016 to have a baby boy, Archie. (See: The Kona Contender Who’s Fighting to Make the Start List)

After having decent races at both Ironman 70.3 Oceanside and Ironman 70.3 St. George, Joyce decided to compete at Ironman Boulder and see if the full distance, and maybe even Kona, would be a possibility for the season.

“When Boulder [her current hometown] had the pro field, I was like OK this is a good opportunity to see if I’m Ironman fit and [the win] was a nice bonus,” Joyce told Bob Babbitt this weekend before making the start at Ironman Mont-Tremblant.

After the victory, Joyce had just enough points to make a starting spot at the 2017 Ironman World Championship within reaching distance. It would, however, require another Ironman podium finish.

“The Kona carrot came after Boulder,” Joyce said. “… Kona has always been the race that motivates me in the year so when I felt like it was a possibility to get there, I was like let’s give it a go—which is why I went to Ironman Canada. I didn’t have a great day there. I needed to come in third to get enough points for the first rolldown, and I got fourth.”

On the same day (July 30) Joyce finished fourth at Ironman Canada in Whistler, she registered for Ironman Mont-Tremblant (Aug. 20) which was one of the last Ironmans in the Kona qualification window.

“If I qualify for Kona, this will be four Ironmans in five months which definitely wasn’t my plan,” she told Babbitt. “I think what I’m doing is the exact reason I hadn’t put Kona on the radar. Because it’s so difficult to qualify for Kona if you’ve taken a year off to have a baby because you’re starting from zero.”

The trip to Mont-Tremblant paid off, with Joyce putting together a 56:19 swim, a 5:07:51 bike and a 3:08:27 marathon to earn the victory in 9:19:08 and rack up 2,000 valuable points toward a Kona start.

She’s managed to move to the top of the August qualifying list and has earned the starting spot at the Ironman World Championship on Oct. 14. (The final cutoff is next weekend. Keep up on the rankings at

Despite the fact that Joyce has had so much success in Kona, she’s looking forward to being a bit more under the radar this year after a tough qualifying block. “… I like the challenge of people saying ‘you can’t do it because you’ve done three Ironmans,’ then that’s the red flag. I’m like ‘well you watch.'”