Noosa triathlete aims for special career swansong
Retiring from professional sport has proven a tricky endeavour for Noosa's Beth McKenzie this year, but she hasn't given up hope of finishing her ironman career on a high.
The 40-year-old had grand plans to end her time in the elite ranks of triathlon by notching up her 20th ironman in a "retirement race" at Challenge Roth in Germany earlier this year.
However, she never got the chance to lace-up with that event and many others cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, almost six months after that tough news, McKenzie will get her chance for a swansong with the half-distance Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast and Ironman Cairns on the radar.
"Luke, my husband, decided to retire when Challenge Roth was cancelled, as he has already accomplished everything he wanted in the sport and had a long career," McKenzie said.
"I, on the other hand, sort of had that unfinished feeling, so even if I am not my absolute fittest, I'd love to do these final iconic races as a sort of personal celebration and complete my 20th Ironman."
Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast was confirmed under an approved COVID Safe Event Plan in mid-August.
The event involves a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21.1km run.
McKenzie said training had been "going well" ahead of the event which will be held this Sunday.
"Though the training plan has been a bit rushed and condensed for me, you never know what will happen on race day," she said.
"Potentially, a shorter preparation could be good for me. I turned 40 this year, so maybe showing up 'less tired' on the start line will be a good thing."
While it's been a shorter training plan ahead of an event, McKenzie never stopped working on her fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Training during COVID has been quite enjoyable in Noosa," she said.
"I took a much more unstructured and lower volume approach than usual, which probably contributed to my enjoyment.
"The pools were closed for several months, but I formed a tiny ocean squad with my friends, local legends Belinda Granger and Melissa Hauschildt, and kept up swimming at least three days in the ocean.
"Cycling-wise, Luke and I did some of our own rides outdoors together, so I was lucky to have a training partner when many people were forced to go solo.
"We also spent a lot of time on our indoor cycling wind trainers on a virtual cycling program called 'zwift'.
"Running-wise, nothing much changed during COVID and I'm lucky the Noosa National Park is in my backyard."
There's been plenty of ups and downs but the mother of two has mostly enjoyed a fruitful career with multiple podiums and wins to her name.
Her first Ironman win came during the IM Switzerland in 2015.
While she endured a two-year suspension for testing positive to a banned substance in 2016 - which she has passionately denied any wrongdoing - McKenzie made a courageous comeback to the sport in 2018 by placing third at the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship at Cairns.
She's enjoyed plenty of rewarding results since and even runs a successful apparel brand Wyn Republic with her husband Luke.