Viva Las Vegas for triathlon ace

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RYAN Hepworth continued his good form in 2012, by qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.

Fresh from winning the Driffield Triathlon last month, his performance at the UK championships at the weekend was good enough to qualify him to showcase his talents on the international stage again.

He competed in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii last year, and was named Bridlington Free Press Sports Person of the Year for 2011.

He travelled to Wimbleball in the Exmoor National Park on Sunday to take on Britain’s best.

“This was my first outing for We Love Mountains over what I would consider to be my better distance, so I was keen to put in a good performance.

“The 70.3 event is a half Ironman distance race, consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run.

“Add to the mix the torrential rain and strong wind in the lead up to race day, and that the UK event is widely believed to be one of, if not the toughest 70.3 event on the world circuit, I knew I was in for a long day.

“The 1.2 mile swim got the race under way, and after the usual fighting for space expected in an open water swim, I exited the water in 26 mins 36 secs.

“This was really just a warm up for the main event, a 56 mile bike ride with a hill for every mile. Ouch.

“Many of the athletes opted for a road bike set up to tackle the hills, but the Orbea Ordu handled just as well on the hills as on the flat, giving me a huge advantage over the other competitors.

“I finished the bike in two hours 49 mins, and in 30th place overall, and headed out onto the run course.

“The terrain didn’t get any easier, and after completing the hilly off-road half marathon in just over one hour 25 mins, I found myself finishing in 19th place overall in a total time of four hours 47 minutes and 50 seconds.

“Considering nearly 2,000 competitors started the race, around 40 of which were professional triathletes, I was very happy with the result.

“My position also earned me a qualification spot for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas on September 9, which I accepted.

“I will now take a while to rest, recover, and plan my training over the next couple of months in preparation for the ITU Long Distance World Championships in Spain next month, and now the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in September.

“Exciting stuff.”