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Shepparton triathlete eyes Hawaii triumph

Shepparton's Karla McKinlay is aiming to take out her age-group at this year's Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

HANNAH DRISCOLL January 2, 2014 4:27am

Karla McKinlay is aiming to win her age group at the Ironman World Championship this year.


Karla McKinlay has one major goal she wants to achieve with her triathlons.

Win her age group at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

McKinlay finished last year as the top-ranked woman in the world for her age-group — 65 to 69 — in the Ironman age-group rankings (which takes into account both Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlon) and Ironman-only age-group rankings.

The top three race performances for the year are scored and then added together for a point score, with 5000 points on offer for a full-distance triathlon win and 3500 for a half-distance triathlon.

McKinlay won three Ironman events last year — in two of those she was the only competitor in her age group — meaning she earned the maximum points.

‘‘I didn’t realise the rankings existed until ... I clicked on ranking and I realised I was number one, but my aim is to win my age group in Hawaii at Kona,’’ she said.

‘‘Whether I can do it while I am still in this age group, or whether I’ll have to wait until I’m creeping up into the next one, I don’t know, but that’s the aim.

‘‘I’d love to do it (this year), but you never know who is going to come up from the age group below and even that five-year gap seems to makes a difference.’’

McKinlay entered four points-eligible events last year — Ironman Asia Pacific Championship in Melbourne in March, Ironman European Championship in July in Frankfurt, the Ironman 70.3 Shepparton in November and Ironman Western Australia in Busselton last month.

She won her age group at all four, although Busselton was the only one where there was another competitor in the age group, and she was more then three hours ahead of that competitor.

At the Ironman World Championship at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in October she finished third in her age group, but she did set a new personal best time of 13 hours, 27 minutes, 13 seconds.

That time was smashed at Busselton, with McKinlay going under 13 hours for the first time, with 12:54:12.

She was the fastest women over 60 on the bike with 6:00:52, and the bike remains her strong suit.

McKinlay got a new bike this year, not because the old one was bad, but because she wasn’t quite comfortable on it.

‘‘Bike fit is very important. If you’re going to be sitting on that bike for six or seven hours, you’ve got to be comfortable and if you’re not comfortable you won’t ride it properly,’’ she said.

‘‘I think this is what’s helped me in the last two races where I’ve had a good bike ride is perhaps I’m more comfortable on the bike.’’

McKinlay elected not to enter the Ironman 70.3 World Championship last year, but will head to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada on September 7 for this year’s triathlon.

She will then head to Hawaii, where this year she purchased a flat, to prepare for the Ironman World Championship on October 11.

It already promises to be a big year with the anesthetist planning her retirement when her contract expires at the end of May and what she saw day-to-day running the pre-anesthetic clinic was a great incentive to stay fit.

McKinlay encouraged others to get involved in triathlons, saying it was never too late to start something.

‘‘It’s because it’s done in ages and there aren’t many sports where you can be number one in the world at my age because you can’t compete with the younger people,’’ she said.

‘‘But you feel here you are competing against your peers and people of your own age and own ability.

‘‘It’s no good me pretending I could be number one in Ironman in the world overall at 67, it wouldn’t happen.’’

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