Twelve months ago Davina Jones was pulled from the run course when competing in the New Zealand Ironman at Taupo.
The reason - her finish time would have been outside the cutoff for the event, 17 hours.
It was a devastating blow to the New Plymouth triathlete competing in her first full ironman.
That's why the 47-year-old will be back on the start line on Saturday morning along with 31 other triathletes from Taranaki.
"I was gutted," said Jones this week recalling the 2013 race. "I'd spent 12 months preparing for the race. A lot of time away from family and friends. You're off the social calendar and for that to happen, it was devastating."
Jones said she was 7km from the finish line when officials intervened.
"They took everyone off the course. It was about 11.20pm, maybe a bit later. They told me I couldn't go on and they tell you before you start not to argue with officials," she said.
"We were given to midnight to complete the race. I may not have finished before midnight but I would have finished the run, I'm sure of that. I just think people got tired of waiting for us. They bunged us in a van. I wasn't happy. I didn't say it like that, I was swearing and cursing."
Jones said she was determined to put things right in the gruelling event involving a 3.8km swim, a 180km bike and a 42.2km run on Saturday.
"My swimming is better, my cycling is better and so is my running. There's some unfinished business. I have a score to settle with this race. I learnt a lot last year. I know I can do a lot of things better. I can cut my transition times and know when to take nutrition."
Jones, a registered nurse manager for a family occupational health services business, said the race held no fears.
"I know I can finish the swim inside the cutoff mark of two hours, 20 minutes. And I know I can be in off the bike leg by 5.30pm," she said.
"I've been training between 18 and 20 hours a week and things have been going really well. I've had two different coaches and learnt so much. Last year, I had Keegan Williams from Cambridge. This year I'm with Jeff McGrath. They've both been amazing."
Jones said her swimming had also improved markedly.
"I've been working with Darrin Grey. He's straight up and he'll tell me off. I respond to that. My times have definitely improved."
Jones said the Flannagan Cup open water swim was proof of that.
"I've done the Flannagan Cup four times. I'm usually last, but this year there were people behind me which was amazing. My time was one hour, 41 minutes. I'm usually over two hours."
Jones said she had also stepped up her cycling.
"I did the Round the Mountain cycle in six hours, 30 minutes and I've been aqua jogging. I've got a dickey knee, so I've taken to training in the pool. I used to think aqua jogging was for nannies but I'll never put it down again. It's helped me so much."
Jones said she also used January's Tauranga half ironman as part of her buildup to Taupo.
"I choked in Tauranga in 2013. I was pulled out of it. I didn't even finish the swim. I went back this year and completed it in seven hours, three minutes."
Jones said she couldn't have achieved what she has without support.
"So a big thanks to my mates who have supported me and trained with me . . . Eleanor Hamilton, Rob Davies, Keith Goodwin, Colin Scott, Roger Gooch, Greg Brien and Anika Ormsby. They've been great."
Jones said her husband Nigel and grandson Keenan Paewai-Taiawa also played a major role.
"They'll be there on Saturday as my support crew. I couldn't do it without them. Part of my motivation for this race is I lost my baby brother, Johnny Thompson, to suicide last June. This race is dedicated to him. "
It's been an incredible journey for Jones.
"Three years ago, I couldn't even swim. I didn't know how to ride a bike and I couldn't run," she said.
"I've never been into sport but when I hurt my calf, I had to go to physio. That's when it all started. I was bigger back then. Since I started, I've lost 20kg. Triathlon has been good to me. Give it a go, it's a great sport."
ON THE START LINE
Thirty-two Taranaki triathletes will be on the start line for the New Zealand Ironman race in Taupo on Saturday. Lou Davey, Leah Barnfield, Melanie Hansen, Kirsten Kowalewski, Diane Kowalewski, Shannon Cox, Heather Ireland, Justin Marinovich, Jed Eden, Merv Hunger, Helen Begg, Katherine Rottier, Jenny Corbin, Nicola Sharpe, Davina Jones, Brian McGrath, Danielle Johnson, Shannon Stallard, Nick Whiting, Brad Tatere, Mike Harris, Hayden Corkin, Chris Pulford, Judah Pratt, Stu Heighway, Michael Kaye, Andrew Glenny, Jeff Allen, John Kahui, Amanda Gilmer, Richard Swinbourne, Tony Milham.
- Taranaki Daily News
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