Chrissie Wellington. Photo: Triitalian/Flickr
Triathlete Chrissie Wellington announced on her blog yesterday that she is retiring from Ironman triathlons. Wellington won the Ironman World Championship in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011. The 35-year-old Brit, who had never been beaten in an iron distance event, is regarded as one of the sport's all-time greats. She set the record for the fastest womens Ironman time at the Challenge Roth in Germany in 2011. She said that her last victory at the World Championship in 2011 was her perfect race.
As I crossed the line I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. The searching for ‘sporting success’ had ended. I was content. I didn’t need faster times, more ironman victories, more accolades to be assured that I had been the best athlete I could possibly be. That’s not to say I don’t think its possible to go faster or maybe even win more titles. But if I am honest, I am not sure that such measures of success truly matter to me.
Wellington took a year off in 2012 to contemplate her options. She said she has some plans on how she will spend her time, but said her next big challenge is still up in the air.
It will involve ambassadorial work for my sponsors, writing, public speaking, development and charity work challenge, beautiful places, learning, good friends, highs, lows, and a healthy dose of self-discovery. And as I said, it will involve sport and adventure, but in what form I am not entirely clear.
I need to give myself the time to explore, to open doors, to hopefully have some other, unexpected doors open in front of me. Here I plunder the wonderful Tolkien quote ‘Not all who wander are lost.’ I need to wander a little knowing that the ‘right’ path and the next goal will emerge through the mist. But transitional periods are never easy. It means letting go of certainty and addiction—the Ironman endorphin rush, a degree of financial security, status, the platform for change—and trading them for what are for me are often anxiety-provoking concepts: freedom, space, flux, change, time to think, aimlessness, withdrawal, a loss of identity. I find it incredibly difficult and disconcerting to answer ‘I don’t know’ when faced with the inevitable question ‘If not Ironman, what are you going to do?’
For more, read Wellington's post, "Announcements, Nervousness, and New Beginnings."