NZ Rookie finishes strong in German Ironman

Christchurch triathlete Gina Ferguson finished third at the Quelle Challenge in Roth, the Ironman-distance race in Germany early today (NZ time).

She was third on a day that the two women in front of her, Yvonne Van Vlerken of the Netherlands and Erika Csomor of Hungary, set new fastest times over the distance (3.8kmswim, 180km cycle, 42.2km run).

Van Vlerken finished in 8hr 45min 48sec with Csomor barely a minute behind in 8:47:05. Both bettered Paula Newby-Fraser's previous best mark of 8:50:53 set in 1994.

Ferguson clocked 8:57:18, a personal best by 12 minutes over her Ironman Western Australia performance in December.

"It was a huge mental challenge for me just to finish," she said of the rainy conditions on the swim and bike. "Once I got on to the run I was much better. I had a good run today, often I have a sort of period from 20km-30km where I suffer with the nutrition but today it just went well.

"I was just giving everything to the end. I never race with a watch so I had no idea what the time was. I thought maybe I would do 9:10 today; 8:57 for me was really, really special.

"I've been in Ironman for one year," she said. "To be under nine hours – I never thought I'd be able to do this so I'm really happy."