Photos courtesy of Isaak Papadopoulos

by Rachel McBride 

Ed. Note—So much Purple Tiger news today! First of all, Rachel has qualified for Kona this October, after her 6th place finish at Ironman Frankfurt this past Sunday, achieving a longstanding goal of hers. Second, we launch the Super Kitty 2 kit today, and you can only get this kit during the next eight days. Third, we have a report from Rachel herself, discussing her buildup to Frankfurt, below. It's been quite a season for the Vancouver native, and we're proud to call her one of our own.

Starting off my 2018 season on a healthy foot (pun intended!), this has been my first real attempt at qualifying for the biggest show in long distance triathlon: the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Qualifying for Kona is a bit different for professional vs age group athletes. It’s a bit of a complicated process of collecting points through our top 4 races (including up to 3 full distance Ironman events). There’s a lot of strategy, gambling and potentially a lot more racing than you really want, especially if you are starting from scratch like myself.

My strategy this year was to try and get the biggest bang for my buck by targeting high point, Continental Championship races. After missing Ironman South Africa last year due to injury, I started off my quest for Kona with these African Champs. In my 4th attempt at the distance, this race was my best execution yet! Finishing just off the podium in 4th place gave me a big jump in points and a lot of confidence that my consistency in training was paying off. It also marked a whole year injury-free! Also to note—I realize it’s literally on the other side of the planet for more North American folks—I would really put this race and a trip to South Africa on your bucket list. Cape Town and some wildlife viewing in particular are not to be missed.

In my build towards the next big-ticket Ironman, I threw in some half distance racing to mix it up - not really considering them for Kona points, but more to keep the brain and body sharp and motivated. Victoria 70.3 is pretty much a local race for us here in Vancouver so logistically it’s simple and familiar. What a surprise to come off with a win! (You can read all about how special this was for me in my blog post from a couple weeks ago)

I tend to race well 2 weeks apart, so my next plan was to race Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant en route to Ironman Frankfurt. For one, it would break up the travel and jet lag. It also allowed me to return to a great course that I hadn’t competed on since the 2014 70.3 World Championships. Tremblant 70.3 usually boasts quite a solid field and this year did not disappoint, with the likes of Meredith Kessler, Jodie Robertson and Jen Spieldenner in the mix.

And what a race it was! After leading out of the water (due to some excellent finishing dolphin dives to take the lead), Kessler and I seriously battled it out on the bike, especially the last 20km where we apparently passed each other no fewer than 11 times according to the camera crew. I was ecstatic to hold onto 2nd place on the run and actually gain a bit more of a boost for my Kona bid.  I also debuted the new Super Kitty 2 kit that is pretty rad!

I’ll be rocking the new kit at Ironman Frankfurt up next in just over a week! With my swimming ability right now, I know I’ll at least start the day at the front of the race amongst an incredible field of athletes. For now, I’m recovering and reconnoitering in Frankfurt! So for now…Auf Wiedersehen!