Coach Tara’s wonderful World Championships

There really are no perfect words to describe all that has transpired over the last week! On Sunday I crossed the finish line of the Ultraman World Championship as the World Champion. This was my first big career win, and it happened at 47 years of age as a full-time working Mom (not as a professional triathlete). The win itself is a dream come true, but the WHOLE experience of Ultraman, from the first time I got involved as a volunteer in 2016 is what makes this win so amazing. It still feels like I will wake up from a dream at any moment. The ohana (family) at Ultraman is unique and exceptional. I have met the most amazing people and made wonderful friendships for life. There is so much aloha (love) and to have Maya be a part of the experience is so special. Maya made the most beautiful sign for me and held it up for me while I was on the run. It said ‘love is all you need!’ That says it all to me.

In 2016 I volunteered for David Gething at Ultraman Florida, and then I raced at the World Championship later that year.

I came into that race in 2016 with ‘hip discomfort’ which was a stress fracture, but it had not yet been diagnosed. After running the 84K run on the fracture, my femur was ready to snap in two pieces. And it did indeed snap four days later on a hike on the island of Kauai. I had major surgery by the most amazing surgeon, Derek Johnson, and I didn’t know if I would ever run again. It was up to my body to heal, and so my rehab began.

Fast forward two years and I once again was honoured to be invited to come back to the Big Island to experience the Ohana (family), Aloha (love) and Kokua (help/generosity) of the best race in the world, Ultraman. My crew consisted of great friends Tom, David and Andrea, as well as my husband Bruce and 6-year old daughter Maya. I am honoured thankful to be part of the Trek family as a Trek ambassador. My Trek Speed Concept helped me to conquer the toughest Ultraman in the history of Ultraman.

This year the race course had to be altered due to the lava flow that happened with the volcanic eruption and this made the Day 2 bike exceptionally challenging!

Day 1 consisted of a 6.2mile (10K) swim and a 90mile (145K) bike. WOW, the last couple miles of the swim was tough with the strong currents and waves. My time was more than 30mins slower than 2016. Tom was awesome at guiding me in the kayak but man was I excited to finally see the exit at the Keauhou canoe club. I was pretty excited about the bike on Day 1 because the ride down to Captain Cook Bay is one of my favourite rides of all time. I had two flats and the kokua (help/generosity) was evident as Mary and Bokie’s teams helped me to change my flats because they happened upon ‘the scene’ before my own crew. Mary’s crew also stopped to help me with a dropped chain.

The weather was great and while it was extremely hot on the run, we had pretty perfect conditions for the entire race, thank goodness! I can’t imagine riding Day 2 in worse winds and toenails rain.

Day 2 was in one word: RIDICULOUS! The 171.4mile (276K) bike had 13,700 feet of climbing. We climbed and climbed and climbed, and climbed some more. There were two huge descents but it really felt like I was always riding UP. My crew helped me to stay hydrated and well fed and I did really well with my nutrition, intaking ~300cals/hr, mostly in the form of salted potatoes, pickles and fruit chewies. I took in a ton of salt and kept away leg cramps that I have suffered from in the past. Two more flats kept my crew working extra hard and man did they rock it! I have never been so relieved to get off my bike! It was such an epic and tough bike that 13 Day 2 starters didn’t make the cutoff. I know each and every competitor gave it their all and they should hold their heads high for their efforts because this ride was tough, and as Dave Cobb said ‘this course gives you big bragging rights’!

Photo credit to Bob Babbitt

Day 3 was a complete sauna running along the Queen K highway with no shade in sight for 52.4miles (84K). I enjoyed the cool early morning air before the sun came up. Then it was a bit of a struggle. I melted out there and struggled to keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other, keep moving forward was the only goal. I made the right decision to change my shoes and apply blister bandages before I completed the first marathon. I will ‘only’ lose about four toe nails. Two years ago I lost seven! My team was outstanding all weekend but on this run each time they took turns to pace me, they carried a full selection of drinks, ice and food options. Amazing! They also poured water over me every few minutes for approximately 7 hours straight.

Running across the finish line with my crew and family and having my wonderful friend Auntie Cassie there who helped me tremendously after my accident was the best feeling ever. This was a dream come true.

I actually had three dreams come true this week. The other two included swimming with the dolphins (thanks to the awesome Kona Boys) with Maya the day after the race and finishing the hike we promised Maya we would finish after it ended abruptly when I fell and broke my leg.

I am the luckiest person in the world. I am so honored to be a part of Ultraman with my friends and family by my side, and I look forward to many more years of Ultraman adventures!