Bassetlaw triathlete Kirsty takes on Ironman challenge

Ironman Barcelona takes place in the small town of Calella about 40 km north of Barcelona.

Kirsty takes on the bike stage.
Kirsty takes on the bike stage.

This was the setting that Kirsty Smith, a member of Bassetlaw Triathlon Club, picked to take on her first Ironman event.

Kirsty first started triathlons at the tender age of 11 years old and represented the Yorkshire and Humberside region at the age of 12.

Having completed her first half Ironman at Stafford in 2018 she set her sights on emulation her dad, who has completed seven Ironman events all around the world.

Having originally entered in 2020, Kirsty alongside her dad had to re-arrange due to the Covid restrictions. Unfortunately, this year her dad had to withdraw due to injuries which meant that Kirsty had to face the challenge on her own.

Despite the stunning location the weather conditions proved to be a bigger challenge. With high winds actually blowing some of the buoys marking the swim course out of position, the organisers had no choice but to reduce the sea swim to 900meters.

The two-loop 180.2 km (112 mile) bike course took the athletes along the stunning coast line between Calella and Montgat. Known to be flat and fast, Kirsty had ridden the course with relative ease two days earlier.

However, the high winds made for a very different ride on event day. Kirsty said: “The ride turned into a battle with 26mph head winds. There’s one major hill on the course and this turned out to be luxury as it was not into the wind and I barely noticed the gradient until it was back to the bottom and a further eight miles into the head wind along the sea with no cover.

"The 20 miles back however was fun with the wind behind you and desperately trying to make time back up before attacking it again for a second lap.

"I came off the bike with a time of 7:10 nearly an hour slower than I would have liked but I couldn’t have done anymore than I did with the conditions I was given.”

After this Kirsty was onto the run, a three-loop 42.2 km (26.2 mile) run course from Calella to Santa Susanna leads through Pineda de Mar and takes athletes up and down the coastline, but the poor conditions continued.

Kirsty added “There was wind and there was rain but by sunset it very much calmed.

"It was dark and lonely out there and after 11 miles it very much became the famous Ironman shuffle as I had just not had enough fuel on me to keep on ticking over running and the gels they provided can only be described as solid jelly like the inside of a pork pie.

"The last lap seemed an eternity as there was less and less people on the course and you could hear the finish but it seemed so far away.”

Finishing in a time of 13 hours and 56 minutes Kirsty said: “Not the marathon time I wanted either but after the bike it was never going to happen and just finishing soon became the goal.

"Three thousand competitors entered, 2400 should have started and only 1500 finished.

"On paper it’s one of the easiest courses however it just shows anything is possible on race day and things can soon change.”