A fairytale comeback for Great Britain’s Tim Don looked like it would end in disappointment after he DNF’ed at Sunday’s Ironman Copenhagen. With zero points earned in that effort, it appeared Don would be the last man out in terms of qualification for this October’s Ironman World Championship.
“Alas no @ironmantri Kona for me,” Don acknowledged on Instagram after his disappointing DNF. “… but in a strange way I loved trying to qualify this year when my backs against the wall I fight, I may have lost this battle but I will win the war and come back stronger, faster and more prepared oh and with slightly more training under my belt for a full Ironman race!”
American Jonathan Shearon rejected his Ironman World Championship spot in favor of competing at Ironman Louisville that same weekend—where he feels he has a better chance at earning prize money. With that decision, the final starting spot to rolled down to Don.
“The road to recovery is rarely linear, the last 10 months have been all about perseverance,” Don wrote on Instagram after finding out he would be going to Kona after all. “To get the first roll down spot was not in my vision, but life is funny like that 🤷♂️😇. See you all in Kona. Thank you to all my sponsor, fans and well everyone out there willing me on to get to @ironmantri Kona 2018 we did it.”
It was a crazy road to Kona for the former Ironman world record holder. The impact of a race-week collision in Kona back in October left Don with “The Halo”—a brace screwed into his skull that kept his head and neck completely still—until the beginning of January. Although the most painful option, he chose the device as it offered him the best chance at recovering with the full mobility needed to return to his career as a professional triathlete. At 40 years old, he recognized he didn’t have the luxury of taking a “dark year” to come back to full strength.
Don focused on the Boston Marathon in the initial stages of his comeback, which he shared in a documentary. He had a successful race, crossing the line in an impressive 2:49:42. He then went on to win Ironman 70.3 Costa Rica in June, and finish ninth at Ironman Hamburg. The points from those races, combined with those from his podium finish at the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship, proved to be enough for the Kona start.