Sailor beats Miami heat, qualifies for Ironman Worlds

Lt(N) Nico Lightbody at the finish line of the Ironman Miami 70.3 competition. Photos by FinisherPix

Lt(N) Nico Lightbody at the finish line of the Ironman Miami 70.3 competition. Photos by FinisherPix

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Base triathlete Lt(N) Nico Lightbody overcame heat and strong winds in South Florida to qualify for next year’s Half Ironman World Championships in South Africa.

The 26-year-old Naval Combat Systems Engineer from Base Information Services finished 26th overall in a field of approximately 2,300 competitors, and fifth in his age group at the Ironman Miami 70.3 competition on Oct. 22.

He completed the gruelling multi-sport race course with a combined time of 4:28:50, which qualified him for next year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Sept 2, 2018, at Nelson Mandela Bay.

The name of the 70.3 competitions refers to the total distance in miles of the event: in Canadian terms a 1.9 kilometre swim, 90 km bike ride, and 21.1km run.

The Miami 70.3 used a staggered start, meaning competitors all start and cross the race finish line at different times in an effort to accommodate the large number of participants.

Due to the logistics of the race, Lt(N) Lightbody said he didn’t realize he had qualified for the worlds until more than an hour after he had finished the race.

The result was even more satisfying for him since his strong finish involved overcoming hot daytime temperatures in Miami that topped out at 31 Celsius with higher humidex readings coupled with strong onshore winds.

The choppy wave conditions during the swim didn’t seem to faze the officer, as he is an accomplished swimmer with five gold medals at this year’s CAF Swimming Nationals held in March. Despite the conditions, he finished the course in a relatively fast 26:32.

The cycling component, which he completed in 2:26:45, and the final running portion of the event that he finished in 1:32:10 was also hampered by the strong easterly winds.

Even though he arrived in Miami four days ahead of the event in an effort to acclimatize, he says the tropical weather conditions pushed both his endurance and spirits to their limits.

“To tell the truth when I got to the finish line at the race I was more relieved just to finish the event because of the heat and the gruelling course,” says Lt(N) Lightbody. “I grew up in Victoria and am not accustomed to competing in this type of weather. I was pouring with sweat right from the beginning of the race, took water and Gatorade at every aid station, and even resorted to stuffing ice into my [racing] suit.”

He also suffered from sporadic muscle cramps and low blood sugar by the midway portion of the event.

“I like the challenge and pushing my body to its limit,” he says. “I like to push myself as far and fast as I can go, and when I do this I normally discover that I can go further. I just keep working at it because I know if I do the training the results will follow.”

He credits Victoria-based coach Mike Neill of Human Power Racing as a major factor to his past success. Neill, a former competitor in the Iron Man World Championships and Lt(N) Lightbody have now set a goal for a top-five finish at next year’s event in South Africa.

In order for that to happen he’ll need to shave 10 minutes off his combined time.

To find out more about Lt(N) Lighbody, his recent trip to Miami, and his other athletic endeavors visit his website: https://www.nicolightbody.com

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