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“When you run, you run, run, run …” The snappy lyrics of this tune make it many a runners’ favourite. For many of them, running is more than just a sport – it is a passion, an addiction even. Chrissie Wellington would certainly agree to that, as running has enabled her to fulfil her dreams. She has won the Ironman contest – the hardest triathlon in the world – not once, not twice, but three times in a row, making her the third woman ever to achieve a triple Ironman Championship. She holds both the course record for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii as well as the world record for the Ironman distance triathlon. To many, Chrissie Wellington is the greatest female endurance athlete of all times.
Born Christine Ann in Suffolk, UK, Chrissie Wellington now splits her time between London and Boulder, Colorado, where she lives with her partner – who is also an Ironman – in order to maintain her strict training schedule. A triathlon consists of a 3.8 km swim, followed by a 180 km bike ride, rounded off with a full marathon. It’s no wonder it’s considered one of the hardest tests of human endurance.
However, Ms Wellington’s dream is much bigger than any world record she may break. Both running and the desire to have an impact on the world have driven her since adulthood, and she uses every opportunity possible to raise money for the charities and projects she supports. In her former career, she worked as a civil servant and for several NGOs. Always a passionate runner, she decided to turn pro once she had reached the point of athletic excellence. One year later, she won the Triathlon World Championship causing a sensation in the sports world and beyond. In 2010, Ms Wellington received an MBE for her outstanding achievements in the area of triathlons – exactly one year after she won the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year title. Not one to dawdle in the spotlight, Chrissie Wellington continues to astound, pushing her body and mind to the limits.
Her phenomenal reputation as a runner goes far beyond breaking records over and over again. When she broke the world record by 12 minutes in 2010, finishing with a time of 8 hours and 19 minutes, many commentators concluded that it wasn’t just her female competitors who needed to watch out, but that the world’s best male athletes had better keep an eye on her.
Chrissie Wellington’s story is that of a strong mind, an unstoppable will to succeed and a relentless belief in pursuing her dreams. Renowned for her endurance, Ms Wellington reportedly follows a strict training programme on the level of top male athletes’ regimens, and she eats a healthy and balanced diet that comes out to an impressive 5,000 calories a day. Following an Ironman race she reportedly gulped down two burgers, three plates of chips and 15 donuts!
The best athletes know that physical conditioning is not everything. What gives Ms Wellington that extra push in stamina is the proven strength of her character: For nearly two years, she lived in rural Nepal working in economic development. Up in the Himalayas she cultivated her passion for running in extreme conditions, and faced many tests of her character and ambition. Chrissie Wellignton’s road both as a runner and a dedicated human being will be an exciting one to follow.