Wagga's Radka Kahlefeldt has returned to racing in grand form, booking her spot to the iconic Ironman World Championships held at Kona, Hawaii in October.
Kahlefeldt made her triumphant return to racing after more than a two year hiatus, with the Wagga triathlete finishing second in the women's category at the Asia Pacific Championships Cairns Ironman over the weekend.
It was the first Ironman for Kahlefeldt with her finishing time of nine hours and five minutes only being six minutes behind women's winner Sarah Crowley.
There has been a lot happening during that two year break for Kahlefeldt, with her giving birth to her second child as well as having injury setbacks at the start of the year.
Understandably, there were quite a few emotions when she crossed the line on Sunday.
"The first feelings were a mixture of happiness, relief and excitement," Kahlefeldt said.
"I saw Brad and the girls at the finish line waiting there for me and they watched the whole race.
"They got up with me so they went through the whole thing and they could celebrate with me which was awesome."
Kahlefeldt is trained by her husband Brad, with the two managing to fit in their busy training schedules while also looking after their two daughters Ruby and Indiana and running the Wagga Swim Hub.
Kahlefeldt had planned to make her Ironman debut in February 2020, however had to to pull out after the swim leg due to illness.
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With Covid meaning that many events were cancelled, it meant that opportunities were limited for her to compete, and with the added difficulty of looking after her second daughter meant that she had to adjust her training.
"I wanted to get back and I pushed a bit too hard," Kahlefeldt said.
"I was only doing fast stuff, so if Indiana was asleep for an hour I would smash myself on the treadmill.
"I was fit really quickly, but I had then a stress fracture in my femur and that was a setback.
"I was diagnosed with it just before Christmas and was on crutches for like six weeks."
Since then, she had been on the front foot getting ready for her debut Ironman with a number of training partners including brother in law Jared Kahlefeldt, cyclist Myles Stewart and up and coming triathlete Annabel White.
"Wagga is awesome for training, I have so many good friends and training partners here," Kahlefeldt said.
"Training for Ironman can be a lonely thing but if you are in Wagga you basically always have someone to train with you.
"Myles is great to be with on the bike, and Annabel is starting to do triathlons and she is great to train with and she is young and super motivated.
"I have these guys around me and its great."
Heading into her first major race in over two years Kahlefeldt was just looking to get a feel of racing again and wasn't looking for any particular finishing position.
"I just wanted to be back racing and I didn't give myself any goals," she said.
"When Covid hit, I didn't retire or anything it was a forced break for two years.
"I wanted to get back because that is not how I wanted to end my career.
"I wanted to get the feel of racing again and I didn't want to put any pressure on myself."
Finishing second in the women's category and 15th overall has gained Kahlefedlt a ticket to the world championships of triathlon held in Kona, with this years event the first to be held since 2019.
"To finish second at the Asia Pacific Championship is a great result," she said.
"Another bonus is that it qualified me for the world championship race which is in October in Kona, Hawaii.
"It's the biggest race and it is going to be the busiest ever, its going to be huge and super exciting."
With a little over three months until race start , Kahlefeldt is only going to get a small break before returning to training.
"I'll have the week off definitely," she said.
"Normally I would have a month off because it is such a big day.
"I'll start back with swimming, I'm lucky here with the heated pool as it is hydrotherapy as well.
"Then I'll get back into riding and start the running two weeks after.
"I'll keep up the gym as well as you need to be pretty strong for the Ironman."
Another factor that Kahlefeldt has to weigh up is the hot conditions that Hawaii usually has in October, which can be hard to prepare for during Wagga's cold winter.
"How do you get ready in Wagga for Hawaii," she said.
"It is going to be so hot so I'll probably do some sauna work.
"I have never tried it in my preparation before."
Kahlefeldt has had a lot of help getting her back to elite competition and is thankful for all of the help she has received.
"It's full on with two children and the business, it wouldn't be possible without Brad," she said.
"Everytime I'm out training the girls are with him or at daycare."
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