The afternoon sun is relentless on the Queen Ka’ahumanu highway in Kona, Hawaii. It’s 10 October 2015 and two of the greatest long-course athletes never to have tasted Ironman world championship-winning glory are experiencing a case of Kona déja-vu. Germany’s Andreas Raelert is on his way to posting a 2:50hr marathon to give eventual winner Jan Frodeno a scare, and finish second for the third time in Hawaii. Further back along the hallowed tarmac, Britain’s Rachel Joyce has overcome a “tri-suit malfunction” to fight her way into second for her third consecutive Kona podium.


While Raelert has his fastest Iron (7:41:33) of all time title from Challenge Roth in 2011, Joyce’s stellar career (including wins at Ironman Lanzarote and Challenge Roth) has come to be defined by her consistency and heartbreaking near misses at the ultimate long-course showdown in Kona. A record that’s seen her finish 6th, 5th, 4th, 11th (with tonsillitis), 2nd, 3rd and 2nd as records have tumbled during a golden age for women’s long-course triathlon.

Cut from the light of Hawaii to a grim Willesden Junction trading estate in December and the 37-year-old Joyce, on her annual UK visit, has just dropped the news that this season marks her final tilt at Ironman world champs glory. “2016 will be my last shot at Hawaii,” says the Boulder-based Brit between studio cover shots. “After this year I’ll be ready not to make Kona the pure focus of my year. I’m not getting any younger. There are other things I want to do with my life.”

Those other things include encouraging female equality and participation in triathlon, the rights of pro athletes and empowering developing nation uptake. With her years at the top of tri and background as a successful construction lawyer, there are few better people to change the face of the sport as we know it for the better.