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Local entrepreneur, mother and IRONMAN contestant inspires

Jul 18, 2019
Local entrepreneur, mother and IRONMAN contestant inspires

Port Elizabeth - With 1 800 women competing in this year’s IRONMAN South Africa’s triathlon events, compared to 2017’s IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 South African season where 1 600 women took part, no doubt the sport of triathlon is growing rapidly amongst women in the country.

One of these courageous women is local entrepreneur and mother of two, Amanda Shaw, who is proving daily that anything is possible if you keep moving forward.

Amanda shares her passion for the sport, “I just love being part of the culture, the people and the discipline that triathlon teaches you. Not a lot of people will ask you what your finishing time was, most people are just impressed and inspired by the fact that you entered and finished. Often, I tell people I have done IRONMAN and they ask if I mean IRONGIRL, and I say no, I have done IRONMAN! They look at me and say really? And I say yes.”

For Amanda, the triathlon bug bit in 2010 when she entered the Isuzu Corporate Triathlon Challenge powered by Algoa FM, “I did the 18km cycle in a team of three. I did the cycle on a mountain bike worth R800 and just a pair of takkies, no cleats whatsoever. The following year I entered the IRON GIRL Series and did the 8km run.

"My background is running, and my running club had a lot of triathletes doing IRONMAN so I thought I should give it a try. When I started off, I couldn’t swim, I could only doggy paddle and I was terrified of open water swimming. Now I can confidently get into the water – I am not the fastest swimmer, but I get the job done.

"My attitude is that the swim leg is by far the shortest discipline out of the three. You don’t have to be good at it – just survive it and get onto that bike and run. I found that a lot of newbies are quite threatened by the swim but it’s not too bad once you are out there. When I started triathlon, it used to be mass starts.

"Now they have changed it to rolling starts where you get to self-seed yourself according to your swim time. I am glad they have introduced the rolling starts, I used to be terrified out there when it was a mass start. It’s also much better for the first timers who are super nervous for the swim, the rolling starts helps everyone in my opinion.”

Amanda’s IRONMAN journey began in 2012 

Amanda’s IRONMAN journey began in 2012 when she registered for both the Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa in Buffalo City and Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay.

She unfortunately missed the bike cut off time in both races, “I was devastated. I was new to cycling and both bike courses are tough. I was not going to give up, so I entered both again the following year” says Amanda. She went on to finish both races in 2013 and has finished five IRONMAN and seven IRONMAN 70.3 events to date.

“Triathlon is a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle of being fit, of being disciplined and building strong friendships with strangers who become friends. I have done a total of 12 IRONMAN branded events and did the Standard Bank 5150 Nelson Mandela Bay twice. I started off not being able to swim, not knowing how to ride a bike, being a mother of two and running my own business.

"If you had told me 8 years ago that I would have completed 5 IRONMAN full distance events, I would have laughed at you, but anything is possible. There are plenty of people out there who can help you achieve whatever goals you have in my mind; you don’t have to do it alone. You can do whatever you set your mind to, just believe in yourself and persevere through.”

2018 saw Amanda podium in her age group category (55 – 59 years) for the first time at the Standard Bank 5150 Nelson Mandela Bay which takes place at Kings Beach. This year she will be gunning to be the first women to cross the finish line in her age group category, but she knows this won’t be easy.

Like South African professional triathlete, Annah Watkinson, she too has the struggle of fitting in her training schedule in between her responsibilities of having a full-time job, “If I had more time, if I did not have a business, I would most definitely do better by being on the podium regularly – it’s just hard to juggle everything. I am in the surgical and medical industry, so I travel a lot and on top of that I have two kids to look after. It’s tough but I am just so passionate about the sport; I absolutely love it. I just love the triathlon culture.”  

2018 Isuzu IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship

Amanda was also lucky enough to participate in the prestigious 2018 Isuzu IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship which took place on African soil for the very first time.

She won an IRONMAN 4 the Kidz Charity Slot for this pinnacle event, “It was an amazing experience to participate in an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship event in front of my home-ground – it was absolutely incredible. To be part of something this massive in your own back yard was a dream come true. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to take part.”

So, what keeps Amanda coming back to these IRONMAN branded events? She explains, “It’s the whole vibe, the atmosphere is electric, the crowds that come out to support is something to behold when they are chanting your name on the side of the road.

"You earn respect when people see you wearing an IRONMAN bag or wearing an IRONMAN finisher-shirt and the events are well run from the start to finish. I am over the moon that the city has kept the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay.”

Women For Tri, a program of the IRONMAN Foundation, recently announced that a total of 500 additional women will earn an invitation to race in the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship taking place in Taup??, New Zealand on November 28-29, 2020. Slots will be awarded to top finishing female athletes at 20 select races worldwide (which the Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa is one of them).

The additional slots will be utilized by Women For Tri, launched by IRONMAN in 2015, to welcome and empower new female triathletes to be a part of the sport's continued growth in high-level competition.

Following the standard IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship rolldown ceremony at the 20 select races, 25 additional slots will be awarded to the next most qualified women, proportional by age group, creating a deeper field of female athletes while maintaining the integrity and prestige of an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship event.

Amanda will be hoping to grab one of these slots on Sunday, 26 January 2020, when she takes on the Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa in Buffalo City.

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