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Kelly Thompson: Giving a full effort to the Half-Ironman
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The name, in and of itself, does not do the race justice.

There is very little that is partial in any way at all about completing a Half-Ironman.

Keep in mind that this event has athletes tackling a grueling trifecta that features a 1.9 km swim, 90 kilometres on the bike and a closing leg that constitutes a 21.1 km half-marathon.

“Telling people you are doing a Half-Ironman is kind of like telling people you’re reading half a book,” said 22 year-old Kelly Thompson with a laugh. The graduate of Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School should know.

After completing the distance at races in both Muskoka and the Niagara Peninsula this summer, the long-time member of the Sudbury Laurentian Swim Club qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships staged in St Georges (Utah) at the end of October.

“I’ve only done three Half-Ironmans, so I am still seeing improvement at each one,” said Thompson. “It’s putting me on a good trajectory, setting me up well. This was the only race this year where I had all three sports going for me.”

That, in and of itself, caught the Computer Science major at Guelph University and member of the acclaimed LPC (Loaring Personal Coaching) Triathlon Club slightly off guard. “In late October in Ontario, you’re doing a lot of your biking inside, so I was surprised at how well I was biking.”

“I had my strongest run of the year, even if the run is still not where I want it to be – but an improvement is an improvement.”

Considering that Thompson had pretty much shut down his training completely through much of the pandemic, basically starting from scratch again in October of 2021, the progress has been noteworthy, though not completely surprising for the multi-sport athlete who garnered attention in his late teens with successful results on the northern Ontario triathlon circuit, most notably.

While the weather in Utah was certainly one of the noticeable differences for Thompson, it wasn’t by far the only one as he made the jump to a whole new echelon. “At a race like St Georges, it was easy mentally, just because there were so many people that you were never physically alone,” he said.

“In a race like Muskoka, where there are a lot less numbers, you get on the bike and might be alone for what seems like hours. It’s a lot of time with just you and yourself – which is something I really didn’t even think about.”

He does now, even as he prepares for his next Half-Ironman, the 70.3 Eagleman in Cambridge, Maryland in June. “I am actually trying to listen to less music now while I am training because you are not allowed to do it in a race,” he stressed.

“Besides, it’s just a bad idea in general with cycling. Being an advocate for cycling safety, you should never wear headphones on a bike.”

Taking a short break after his return to Canada, Thompson was back in training mode, just a few weeks later, “building a base”, as he says, slowly pushing his mileage back up. And while many of the workouts would classify as more of a moderate intensity, there was a 40 X 100 metres session, in the pool, at intervals of 90 seconds, allowing for a break of perhaps 5-10 seconds between each repetition.

That, however, would be the exception.

“At this time of year, there’s no point in being as fit as possible when you are preparing to race in June.”

In the interim, he will slide in the Around the Bay 30 km race in Hamilton, sort of a bucket list item on his running list, and the area of the triathlon where he stands to gain the most ground.

Besides, variety is a spice of life.

“I try and diversify,” said Thompson. “Well, I guess the triathlon itself is a diversified singular sport. But it’s fun to do a whole bunch of things: to be able to do a running race, to be able to do a bike race. They all link together and help” – because when it comes to Kelly Thompson, that’s only the half of it.

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