Canadian Elaine Young moved to Singapore five years ago and her then-boyfriend (now husband) signed her up for a triathlon as he thought, “it would be nice to do something together as a couple” – even though she could not even swim at that point and did not even have a bike.
The 30-year-old international tax advisor recalls having to learn to swim in her hotel pool before they found a permanent place to stay, and buying a bike on the second day of her arrival in Singapore. From there, she progressively pursued this sport and completed her first Ironman 70.3 in Canberra four years ago. Her first Ironman race was two years ago in Busselton, West Australia.
Young then earned a spot at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship last year – that was held in Sunshine Coast at the Mooloolaba Beach. It was only after this that she started to harbour thoughts about Kona.
“Kona was not something I thought about until a year ago when I came back from the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Even then, it was just one of those fleeting ‘If only’, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool?’ type of thoughts,” she said.
“I knew at that point that I wasn’t bad at the sport and I had come a long way in the last few years, but whether I could win an Ironman was another thing. There was a lot of work to be done if that was to be even remotely possible.”
Thus, at the end of last year, she decided that 2017 (the year she turns 30) was a year to go and do the things she wants. With a YOLO (You Only Live Once) motto, she started a new job and dedicated this year to qualify for Kona.
Selecting Ironman Korea in Gurye as her qualifying race, she planned her whole year around this goal.
“I wasn’t confident that this would be enough but if it didn’t work out, my consolation was that I could always try again when I’m 60 or 80. I sat down and planned my training for the year and stuck to it religiously,” she added.
Korea was only her second full Ironman race and she finished it in 10 hours 53:05 minutes to top her age group (30 to 34 years old) and earn that coveted spot to Kona.
“Earning the right to start at Kona for me is validation that all the early mornings, hard work and moments of lows, insecurities and self-doubt are worth it. It will be a dream come true to share the Kona experience with my husband, who tricked me into doing triathlon oh so many years ago!
“To be honest, I didn’t even know about Kona until he introduced it to me. It is our tradition to stay up all night to watch the race every year where we host awesome Kona watching parties and we even named our cats after our favourite pros, Crowie and Rinny.”