Spotlight on GTC member Wendi Duncan – Ironman UK 2017 Finisher


Wendi was one of the first few Members to join Glenrothes Triathlon Club not long after it was established in 2012. Wendi and her sister Elaine both joined with the intention of improving their running fitness. At this point Wendi was only able to run a few miles at a very slow pace but wanted to train for 5k, 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon distance races.

In the early days this was what Wendi focused on but was soon intrigued to try the other 2 disciplines of triathlon – swimming and cycling. On that note she went and bought herself a road bike and started to clock up some miles on it. She also joined the GTC swim sessions on Monday evenings where with the help of the coaches she was able to make lots of improvement to her swimming fitness and technique.

After achieving her ambition to complete a number of running events including that full Marathon, Wendi decided it was time to become a Triathlete. Over the next couple of years she trained for and completed several triathlon events at distances varying from Novice (400m swim,10k bike and 2.5k run) right up to 70.3 Half Ironman events (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run).

Wendi then started to ask herself if she could possibly take herself to the next level of triathlon and take on the massive challenge of completing a full Ironman distance event (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run). Inspired by a number of male Members who had completed the Ironman UK Bolton event the previous year, Wendi decided to sign herself up for the 2017 event.

Training started in early January and was going well until she was sidelined with an annoying groin injury that persisted over the following few months. Despite following all the advice from her Physiotherapist and taking long rest periods, Wendi was prevented from running or cycling during this period. Not ideal when an Ironman event consists of a 112 mile cycle and 26.2 mile run! Fortunately she was still able to swim so she made the most of this and got her swimming to a level she was very happy with.

There was a period when Wendi questioned if she should withdraw from the event due to the circumstances with her injury but knew if she did this her passion and desire to do it would be lost and may never return. She remained patient and positive that providing she was able to get her cycling and running back on track in the limited time she had left there was still a chance she could become an Ironman finisher.

With time running out and the injury still not completely settled Wendi decided she would try and get back to building up some bike and run fitness before admitting defeat. Over the next month or so she gradually and carefully got her training back to a reasonable level and although she did not have the time to do as many long cycles and runs as she would have preferred, she was quietly confident it may be enough to get her that prestigious medal she longed for.

The day dawned and Wendi was eager to get the job done and get her rewards. With a 2.4 mile swim starting at around 6.00 am in the morning, it was a very early rise (3.00 am). With the swim completed without too much trouble, she got herself prepared for the long and hilly bike leg which was to take around 7-8 hours to complete. This was an extremely challenging mission and there was a point where Wendi thought she wasn’t going to make it. This was where the GTC support team played a vital role in cheering her on up the last hill, telling her that she was doing amazing and most importantly that she was still well within the finish time for completing the bike leg. This gave Wendi a renewed desire and belief that she was going to finish this job in style!

With the bike leg eventually ticked off all that was left was the small matter of a 26.2 mile run. After a quick change, toilet break and plenty of fluids on board it was time to tackle the final countdown. Knowing she had time on her side, Wendi didn’t put herself under too much pressure and just got herself into a nice easy run pace and started to tick off the miles. It did get very tough and by this time energy was definitely depleting but once again that strong GTC support team were there to shout, cheer and encourage her through every lap and until she finally crossed that finish line some 15 hours later, completely exhausted but overwhelmingly happy.

Wendi was the happiest woman on the planet and it took some time for the full extent of her achievement to sink in. She had a permanent smile on her face for months afterwards and still does when she recalls that day.

She became GTC’s first female Ironman Finisher and has hopefully now inspired others to consider it. It wasn’t an easy journey for her as you can see but Wendi wanted this so much and never gave up on the belief that she could do it and she did!

Wendi with her trophy

More success was to come for Wendi when she scooped the Triathlete of the Year 2017 Trophy at the GTC Annual Awards and Party Night a few weeks ago. She is an inspiration to all and an example of what can be achieved if you believe in yourself enough and chase your dreams.

I hope this helps to inspire the strong GTC Ironman Team heading to Bolton later this year as in Wendi’s words ‘if I can do it anyone can’. Best wishes for more successes in 2018 Wendi.

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