Robbins will face the Ironman World Championship
The southwestern state of Utah is home to over 3.3 million residents, the Utah Jazz NBA team, the Sundance Film Festival and, for the next few weeks, Teresa Robins of Thatcham.
Robbins swapped West Berkshire for the sandstone of St George, an arid town of 100,000 about 180 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
But she’s not here to admire Zion National Park or the Grand Canyon – she’s due to compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships tomorrow, October 28.
It was a remarkable rise to elite level for Robbins, 50, who only started running regularly 10 years ago and competed in his first triathlon at Newbury in 2017.
Now she’s ready to rub shoulders with the sport’s top athletes – including Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt – a feat she never imagined possible when she first joined Tadley Runners a decade ago.
Robbins qualified for the event in France in 2019 before the pandemic and is now set to swim 1,900m, cycle 56 miles and run a half marathon as she takes on one of the endurance races sport’s most grueling.
She said: “I was 40 and wanted to do something to test myself, to get active.
“I started running and joined Tadley Runners just before I was 40, did quite a bit of running, a few marathons, a few half marathons.
“I got to the point where I was a little bored of running, so I bought a bike.
“That was about six and a half years ago and I love motorcycling, maybe even more than running.
“About six months after I got my bike, someone told me that if I added some swimming, I could do a triathlon.
“I had a few lessons and took that back and did the Newbury Triathlon in 2017.
“I actually did pretty well and loved all three sports, I haven’t looked back since, I love it.”
Robbins’ busy schedule and the need to prepare for three different disciplines means she often trains twice a day, six days a week.
“It’s important to like it, training is 99% of what I do for sport,” she said.
“It’s a bit like an exam at school, the race is an opportunity to show what you can do.
“Luckily I love him so much, I’ll miss it when I take a few weeks off after the race.
“It’s a really social sport, I train with friends and like-minded people.
“If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t do it, that’s the motivation.”
And she has been waiting three years for her chance to shine on the world stage, having qualified before the Covid pandemic put an end to all recreational and competitive sport.
She said: “Ever since I competed in the Newbury Triathlon, which is a sprint triathlon, I’ve been looking to increase my distances and now here I am at the World Championships, which is actually a half Ironman.
“I’ve been eyeing this distance for a while, endurance sports seem to suit me better, I’m better at marathons than five kilometers for example.
“I did an Ironman in Vichy in France and decided to really get into it, but I don’t think I ever really expected to qualify for the World Championships.
“I did a lot better than I thought I would and finished fourth out of about 100 women in my age category, got the spot and here I am.”
Robbins, who is trained by Callum Hughes’ Newbury-based business VeloClinic, finished second at Ironman Staffordshire earlier this year but has since suffered a stress fracture in her leg which is expected to slow her down during the racing section of the World Championship. race.
“It’s a little frustrating because I’ve had my eye on this event for three years now, but it’s a fantastic chance to compete alongside some of my heroes,” she said.
“I wasn’t able to race as much as I would have liked, so I think I tempered my expectations a bit.
“There are 247 women in my category and a few months ago before the injury I really would have liked to be in the top 10, now I think I’ll be in the top 50 more, I’m going to give it my all.”
Robbins is renowned for being emotional both at the start and at the finish – in Staffordshire she found herself in tears before the race had even started.
She said: “Luckily the lady next to me gave me a big hug, it’s so emotional because so much hard work has gone into getting to this point.
“I just know when I cross the finish line on Friday I’ll throw my hands up and start crying, that’s probably the only thing I can guarantee.”