Kona 2015 Profile: Beth Gerdes (USA)

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Career Highlights

  • Ironman Winner (Switzerland)

2015 Season

  • 5th IM Malaysia 10:15:19
  • 4th IM Western Australia 9:04:38
  • 5th IM Melbourne 9:05:08
  • DNF IM Cairns
  • 1st IM Switzerland 9:21:05
  • 2nd 70.3 Philippines
  • 6th 70.3 Sunshine Coast

The last few years have been a total whirlwind for Beth: Starting a new relationship with an Australian Pro triathlete training in California who “happened” to live next door, wondering why she was vomiting at IM Wisconsin 2013, supporting her new boyfriend who finished 2nd in Kona, finding out she was pregnant, having her baby daughter Wynne at the end of May ’14 and getting back into Ironman racing in September. And that was just the start of her crazy busy 2015 racing season!

Roughly four months after giving birth to Wynne, Beth raced IM Malaysia, finishing 5th. In December she raced IM Western Australia, finishing fourth with a sub-3h marathon. In March she finished 5th at IM Melbourne, posting her first sub-5h IM bike leg. Even with a few more points from 70.3 racing, she didn’t have enough points to qualify. She lined up with Luke at IM Cairns only to DNF early on the bike when her bike kit didn’t include a valve extender and she couldn’t put air in her tires after fixing a flat. (She couldn’t be too mad at her bike mechanic – Luke had a great day and won the men’s race.) It was mid-June, Beth still need more points to qualify and time was running out. After a bit of back and forth, she settled on racing IM Switzerland, probably needing a second place finish for a Kona slot. She came off the bike in third place, quickly overtook Mareen Hufe (who “only” needed third to qualify) but was still more than ten minutes behind Mary Beth Ellis at the half-marathon mark. That quickly changed when MBE struggled and Beth ran a phenomenal 3:01 marathon (within a minute of the run course record). Beth took the lead at 36k and went on for her first Ironman win – and finally a safe position for a Kona slot. Of course this was the highlight of her season so far: “Winning Ironman Switzerland was my first Ironman win, so of course it was special. It was also unexpected, which made it even more of a personal highlight.”

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Still, she didn’t take things easy to focus on Kona: In addition to racing two more 70.3s she and Luke bought a house in Noosa to use as a training base. “I am still in the groove and excited for Kona. I keep seeing progress with my training and racing, so that keeps me motivated. But I am absolutely ready for a break after Hawaii. I think Kona will be my last Ironman for the year, but I guess you never know.” Ask any question about Kona and you can tell how much she is looking forward to the race: “I’m excited to race the Top 40 women in the world in Ironman. Kona is the only time you can do that and truly see where you rank in the world-wide scheme of things. I think the pro race experience will be completely different from the age group race. Sitting on the sidelines the past two years, I have a good idea about how the race can unfold, and I’m excited to be a part of it. So even though much of the race and course is known to me, it will feel completely new and I’m not sure how it will unfold on the day.”

For a good Kona result, Beth needs to limit the time she looses to the rest of the field on the swim. “I need to get into a solid swim pack that swims around 1 hour. If I come out of the water with this group of girls, I can set myself up for a really good day. I love non-wetsuit swims without surf/beach entry, so Kona is a great course for me and I believe I can make it happen. I’m swimming 25-30k of long course meters per week with an elite squad which is giving me some uncharted swim fitness. I also thrive on the Kona atmosphere. Whether I’m racing or not, the Big Island during Ironman week is my happiest place on earth.” With her run strength she’ll be able to plow through most of the Kona field. If she manages to come off the bike not much more than 20 minutes behind the leaders, I’m sure we’ll see her run into the Top 10.

(Photo: Beth getting some extra motivation by daughter Wynne on the run at 70.3 Sunshine Coast. Supplied by Beth.)

This is an excerpt from my free “Kona Rating Report” – 150+ pages with tons of information about the Kona Pro races!

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