SURREY — The world’s first woman to have finished all Ironman triathlon competitions across the globe says the key to enduring the gruelling competition isn’t in your legs or arms.
“Your mind is an incredible machine,” said Elizabeth Model. “Ironman is not about the fittest or the fastest, it’s who’s the toughest mentally. If you’re mentally tough, you can do anything you set your mind to.”
Model, the 57-year-old CEO of the Downtown Surrey BIA, is one of only four people in history to complete all 40 or so sanctioned Ironman triathlon competitions on six continents – and she’s raced a marathon in Antarctica to join the “seven continents club.”
“Being the first woman in history to complete every Ironman is something I will be forever proud of,” she said.
“It’s taken 11 years to accomplish that goal, so it’s a real sense of accomplishment.”
Eleven years ago, Model’s friends invited her to join them in an Ironman in Penticton. She declined but went to watch and cheer them on. Being a spectator was enough to light the spark.
“I was hooked,” she said. “I bought a bike right away and started training.”
An Ironman triathlon competition includes 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running.
Model finished her first Ironman at 46.
“After I did my first Ironman, I said, ‘you know what, I’m going to do them all in the world.’
“My girlfriends looked at me like I had rocks in my head.”
Including marathons, Model has finished 99 major sporting competitions.
Model, along with the three men who share her Ironman record, will be competing in a new Ironman in North Carolina on Saturday (Oct. 22). She says they are all hoping to cross the finish line together.