Iron woman, and then some

2017-07-12 06:01
Chantelle Webber with her Ironman medal.Photo: supplied

Chantelle Webber with her Ironman medal.Photo: supplied

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AMANZIMTOTI athlete Chantelle Webber proved she is not to be taken lightly. Webber competed in the Half Ironman competition in Durban recently, completing a grueling 70.3 miles of swimming, running and cycling in a time of 7:41.

What makes Webber’s achievement so significant is that she only started running three years ago.

“I started participating in parkrun in November 2014. I was overweight and unhealthy and made a choice to better my life. I realised I could push my body and got curious to see how far I could go as I was an overweight girl and then the idea came for Ironman.

“At school I played hockey and was a team swimmer. By the time I paid my Ironman entry fee, I made the commitment. I decided I will look after my body, train and sacrifice family and social time.”

Webber spent the past two years focusing on losing weight, eating healthy, training, understanding training and her body’s capabilities.

“I spent time in the gym, training twice a day, alternating between gym, swimming, running and cycling,” she said.

“I am the run director at Amanzimtoti parkrun and that’s where I come from. People say ‘one day’ or ‘if I get fit, I will do parkrun’, but parkrun is the actual platform to get fit.

“It is at 8am every Saturday at Toti Main Beach, a free five kilometre run or walk - up to the person. We now have an average of 240 people a week, but we actually have 2 000 registered members in Toti. Anyone can register on our website: www. za,” she said.

“Parkrun inspired me to spend my past two years being outside. I participated in the Midmar Mile, the Dolphin Mile Swim, Tour Durban, Half Marathons and the Tin Man triathlons. I was extremely nervous about the Half Ironman Triathlon, but I looked at it as my reward for all the training I put in.

“On the day, I made sure I was well rested and prepared everything the day before, but I had nightmares of my bike being stolen from Addington Beach where we had to park.

“So the first thing I did was check that my bike and bag was still in place and that I had my race number. My biggest worry was that swim conditions were good. The sea was flat, there was no current and I had one of my best swims ever. I did 1.9km in 44 minutes. My average used to be 47 to 50 minutes, I was impressed,” Webber said.

She then transitioned to bike gear.

“The cycle was my biggest stress, I am very experienced in swim and run not so with cycling. I took it easy to Zimbali­, and the others told me it is downhill, from there it will be fast back, but it took me longer than expected. I aimed to get back to Suncoast in 3 hours 30 minutes and managed it in 3 hours 40 minutes. By then I knew could do it.

“The bike ride was 90.1km. I changed into my running gear and waddled out, I was pretty sore from the cycling. The first 10km was a breeze, but by 16km my legs were tiring, by 20 kilometres, I got second wind.

“Emotions washed over me, as I approached the finish line. My friends and family were crying and I was crying and they shouted at me to stop crying for my finisher photos. It was such an amazing feeling, I had just finished 112km or 70.3miles of physical endurance, two years previously I could barely walk two kilometres.

“It was such an amazing experience, I told my friends I could actually go on for longer. I want to tell everybody, just start whatever you want to do to get fit, there are no excuses.

“I don’t have children, but I have a full time career and animals and a husband. I also know people with four children who do it. I have always been a big girl, it is not about how you look.”

On her bucket list is to do the full Ironman, 140.6 miles in two years time. Her first marathon will be in September, then the Amashova in October then Two Oceans.

“In 2019 I am planning to earn my tour medal for South Africa for Ironman. Otherwise on my list is pretty much just doing what I love, all over the country. In South Africa there are so many events you can go to and places where you can participate in sport.

“There are so many parkruns all over South Africa that one can experience. We miss out on so much.”


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