|Chrissie Wellington winning the 2008 Frankfurt Ironman|
The Chrissinator 
|Date of birth||18 February 1977|
|Place of birth||Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England|
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Weight||60 kg (132 lb)|
|Turned pro||February 2007|
|Coach(es)||Frank Horwill (2002–2004)
Tim Weeks (2006)
Brett Sutton (2007–2008)
Simon Lessing (2009)
|Other interests||International development|
Christine Ann Wellington (born 18 February 1977), also known as Chrissie Wellington, is an English triathlete who is the world record holder for ironman-distance triathlon races. She is the current and three-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion, having won the World Championship consecutively in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She is noted for having won the World Championship less than a year after turning professional, an achievement which has been described as "a remarkable feat, deemed to be a near impossible task for any athlete racing as a rookie at their first Ironman World Championships." She is also the first British athlete to hold the Ironman Triathlon World Championship, and remains undefeated over the Ironman distance.
Christine Wellington was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk and grew up in Feltwell, a small village in Norfolk. She was a competitive swimmer as a teenager, when she swam for Thetford Dolphins, and went on to swim for her university. She describes herself as a "sporty kid, swimming, playing hockey, running, but never excelling and always more interested in the social side of the sports scene". She was educated at her local comprehensive school, Downham Market High School and Sixth Form, where she was a member of most school sports teams, but "focused more on my studies than I did on reaching my full potential on the pitch."
After graduating with first-class honours in geography from Birmingham University in 1998, Wellington travelled the world for two years, which she described as opening her eyes to the "many problems that exist in the world, but also to the opportunity for positive change." In 2000, she enrolled in an MA course in development studies at the University of Manchester. Graduating with a Distinction in October 2001, she joined the UK government agency DEFRA in London to work on international development policy. At DEFRA, she was part of the team that negotiated for the UK at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and became involved in following up the UK government's commitments on water and sanitation. She also worked on post-conflict environmental reconstruction policy.
Disillusioned with "bureaucracy and paper pushing", in September 2004 Wellington took sabbatical leave from DEFRA to work in Nepal for Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), a Nepalese development NGO. Based in the capital, Kathmandu, she managed a community-led total sanitation scheme in Salyan, a conflict-affected district in the west of the country. She also performed many other tasks for RRN, including preparing project proposals, editing books and writing papers.
On leaving Nepal at the end of 2005, she travelled to New Zealand, Tasmania and Argentina before returning to her old job at DEFRA in May 2006. She left this job in February 2007 in order to become a professional triathlete.
Wellington's first triathlon race was at the Eton Super Sprints on 16 May 2004, where she finished third. In the following two months, she won this race on both occasions. She put her triathlon racing on hold for her sabbatical in Nepal. In Nepal, she was based in Kathmandu, at an altitude of 1350 m (4430 ft), and every morning before work she would cycle around the neighbouring countryside on her mountain bike. She would also go running along the many hilly trails in the Kathmandu valley. When riding around the outlying villages on her mountain bike she would often have to wait for male co-workers to catch up with her. During a religious holiday, she spent two weeks cycling with friends some 1400 km from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet to Kathmandu, crossing mountain passes over 5000 m, enduring sandstorms and blizzards, and reaching Base Camp on the northern (Tibetan) side of Mount Everest at 5208 m (17090 ft). Her coach, Brett Sutton, believes this experience at altitude to have been very useful training for her later professional career, while Wellington herself regards it as having given her lasting mental strength.
In February 2006 she entered the Coast to Coast, a 243 km, two-day endurance race across the Southern Alps of New Zealand involving running, cycling and kayaking. She finished 2nd in this race, despite having no previous kayaking experience, apart from some brief training before the race.
Shortly after her return to the UK she won the 2006 Shropshire Olympic Triathlon. This qualified her to enter the ITU World Age Group (Amateur) Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, a title which she won on 2 September 2006, beating her nearest rival by 4 minutes and 2 seconds. She later said she "trained really hard for this race for 10 weeks, juggling 20 hours [a week] of training with my full-time job."
During this period, like most amateur triathletes, she had also continued entering running races. She had previously run the London Marathon for charity in 2002, finishing in 3:08:17, making her the fastest woman from her running club in that race. That result prompted her to get a running coach, the "legendary and ever inspiring" Frank Horwill and to take her running training much more seriously. She had hoped to improve her marathon time in the April 2003 London Marathon, but in March she was hit by a car. Unable to run the marathon, she took up swimming again, leading her to try triathlon racing in 2004. After her ITU victory, she took up cross-country racing for the first time, as a means of building strength for her triathlon races. She enjoyed some success in B and C grade cross-country events around London, winning several races including the South of Thames Championship in December 2006.
After winning the world amateur title, Wellington began to consider becoming a professional, which would mean giving up her job. In January 2007, on the recommendation of a friend, she travelled to Switzerland to ask the opinion of the renowned and controversial Australian triathlon coach, Brett Sutton. Within 5 days she had handed in her notice at DEFRA, and in February 2007 flew out to Thailand to join Sutton's teamTBB at their base in Phuket.
She turned professional with the intention of racing standard-distance events, and enjoyed early success, winning Olympic-distance events in Bangkok and Subic Bay, then returned to the UK where she won the sprint-distance event at Bleinheim. Later the same month she entered her first longer-distance event, the UK half-Ironman race at Wimbleball, but suffered mechanical problems with her bicycle (forcing her to climb the steep Exmoor hills in too high a gear) and finished in 5th place. She returned to winning form only six days later, at the shorter Zurich triathlon.
On 1 August 2007, Wellington took on her toughest challenge to date, the long-distance Alpe d'Huez triathlon, known for its difficult summer heat, its altitude, and its hard climbs on both the bike and running stages. Despite a puncture and being forced off the road by an oncoming vehicle during a fast descent, she finished the bike stage 19 mins 30 sec in front of her nearest rival, Sione Jongstra, and extended her lead on the running stage to win the race by over 29 minutes, in 9th place overall.
Towards the end of July, her coach had suggested that she was ready for an Ironman, despite the relatively low volume of her training. She said of Sutton, "my training was more geared to standard distance, with not much high volume. I don’t seem to need high-volume work like three-hour runs. I’ve done none of these since I’ve been with Brett. Some of the other girls will. This is why he is so special: he has an ability to spot potential even if the athlete can’t. He said I was ready even on the training I was doing."
After 10 days of acclimatisation at her team's base in Thailand, Wellington won Ironman Korea, in very hot conditions, finishing over 50 minutes ahead of 2nd placed Yasuko Miyazaki, in 7th place overall. By winning this race, she earned a slot to race at the Ironman world championships in Hawaii.
On 13 October 2007 (14 October UTC), Wellington won the world championship Ironman triathlon title at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, together with US$110,000 prize money; she finished in 9:08:45, five minutes ahead of Samantha McGlone, running the marathon leg in 2:59:58, the second-fastest time recorded by a woman on the Hawaii course. Her victory was described as the "biggest upset in Ironman Hawaii history", "a remarkable feat, deemed to be a near impossible task for any athlete racing as a rookie at their first Ironman World Championships" and "one of the biggest shocks in the sport's history."
At the Ironman Australia Triathlon in April 2008, her first Ironman since Hawaii, Wellington again won by a margin of five minutes, finishing 9th overall. Her marathon time of 3:01:53 was beaten by only two men. Only twenty days later, she attempted her first World Cup race, the Tongyeong BG Triathlon in Korea, but could only finish in 22nd place. She wrote, "If I judged every day by whether I win or lose, yesterday would be considered a 'bad day' [...] But I need to have these days - because the 'defeats' expose my weaknesses, and enable me to grow, learn and develop as an athlete."
At the Ironman European Championship race held in Frankfurt, Germany on 6 July 2008, in perfect weather conditions, Wellington recorded the second-fastest time to date by a woman over the Ironman distance, just 32 seconds outside Paula Newby-Fraser's world record of 8:50:53 set in the 1994 Ironman Europe race. Spectators were aware throughout the race that Wellington was close to breaking the world record, but she did not know exactly what it was, and in any case preferred to slow down to celebrate her victory over the last few kilometres, exchanging greetings and hi-fives with the crowd. Other factors affecting her time were that she lost some of her nutrition on the bike (having to rely on the aid stations instead) and that the bike course was 2 km too long.
Later that month, she retained her title at the long-distance Alpe d'Huez event, finishing second overall, more than 25 minutes ahead of second-placed Aléxandra Louison and only 1 minute 23 seconds behind the winning man, Marcus Ornellas. She recorded the fastest overall time for the ascent of les 21 virages (pictured, right). On 17 August she achieved her first win at the half-Ironman distance at the Timberman 70.3 triathlon in Gilford, New Hampshire, placing sixth overall, 18 minutes ahead of runner-up Amanda Stevens.
Two weeks after her Timberman win, Wellington met the Ironman-distance world record holder, Yvonne van Vlerken on the latter's home ground at Almere in an eagerly-awaited clash for the ITU long distance World Championship title. Wellington won with a "dominating performance", more than 17 minutes in front of Denmark's Charlotte Kolters. Van Vlerken finished in third place, 19 minutes behind Wellington.
In October Wellington returned to Kona as defending champion and retained her title, setting a new Hawaii marathon course record of 2:57:44. Despite losing around 10 minutes because of a flat tyre—a delay which would have been greater if fellow competitor Rebekah Keat had not given her a spare CO2 cartridge—she finished some 15 minutes ahead of second-placed Yvonne van Vlerken.
On 12 July 2009 at the Quelle Challenge Roth, Wellington set a new record for ironman-distance triathlon races of 8:31:59, beating Yvonne van Vlerken's record set a year earlier over the same course by 13 minutes and 49 seconds. Rebekah Keat, who finished second, 7 minutes 25 seconds behind Wellington, also beat van Vlerken's time.
In October, Wellington won the world championship for the third time, setting a new course record of 8:54:02, beating Paula Newby-Fraser's record of 8:55:28 which had stood since 1992. She finished 19 mins 57 secs ahead of second-place Mirinda Carfrae, the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Champion who, in her first Ironman race, ran a marathon time of 2:56:51, fifty-three seconds faster than Wellington's record of the previous year. Wellington's victory was described as "stunning" and "even more dominant" than usual. Only 22 men were faster than Wellington.
Chrissie Wellington has said she has two passions in life: sport and development. In her victory speech at the 2007 Hawaii Ironman, she referred to her experience teaching children at a school near Boston, Massachusetts, where she first noticed the difference that sport can make to children's lives. She also noted, from her experience in Nepal, how sport can bring conflict-affected communities together. In an interview, her coach Brett Sutton said:
She has kicked around for years through South East Asia, working for underprivileged people. That's why she was in Nepal. Already this year she has done clinics in Thailand and the Philippines and now sponsors a young Filipino athlete to attend our group for the coach to work some magic. I think her win could be the catalyst for the sport in South East Asia.
To give you an insight into Chrissie Wellington's mind, her first talk to me about the media and the frenzy around her, was "Boss, I don't want us to lose sight of what we discussed about my goal. I want to be able to use my triathlon result to help develop social programs for underprivileged kids in South East Asia. Any sponsor who does not believe this is a priority, we can do without. If it costs me a little money, I am at ease with that." [...] This is the real Chrissie, the one people don't see behind the flashy smile.
Reflecting on her victory three weeks later, Wellington wrote:
Anyone that knows me has probably been on the receiving end of one of my rants. Like a stuck record I ramble on about development to anyone that will (pretend to) listen. It is my passion, and has been for a long time. Poverty, conflict, violence, crime, exclusion and so forth are not givens. They happen for a reason. We have the power to change things. And sport is one vehicle for doing so. It has the power to build bridges, to empower, to teach, to heal – this is what triathlon and every other sport should be about. I hope that I [...] can, in a small way, help to inspire people to take up sport, realise their own dreams and their full potential.
|10 October 2009||1st||Ironman World Championship, Hawaii||226.3||0:54:31||4:52:06||3:03:05||0:04:20||8:54:02|
|23 August 2009||1st||Timberman Ironman 70.3 (half-Ironman distance)||113.2||0:27:22||2:19:59||1:24:36||0:03:14||4:15:11|
|9 August 2009||2nd||5430 Long Course Triathlon, Boulder, Colorado, USA (half-Ironman distance)||113.2||0:28:58||2:16:38||1:24:54||0:01:49||4:12:18|
|12 July 2009||1st||Quelle Challenge Roth, Roth, Germany (Ironman distance)||226.3||0:50:28||4:40:28||2:57:32||0:03:33||8:31:59|
|14 June 2009||1st||Ironman 70.3 Kansas (half-Ironman distance)||113.2||0:25:11||2:26:51||1:20:16||0:02:34||4:14:52|
|17 May 2009||6th||Columbia Triathlon, Columbia, Maryland (1.5 km / 41 km / 10 km)||52.5||0:21:43||1:16:23||0:40:35||2:18:40|
|5 April 2009||1st||Ironman Australia Triathlon, Port Macquarie||226.3||0:50:48||5:03:01||2:59:15||0:04:06||8:57:10|
|11 October 2008||1st||Ironman World Championship, Hawaii||226.3||0:56:20||5:08:16||2:57:44||0:04:05||9:06:23|
|31 August 2008||1st||ITU Long Distance World Championship (O3), Almere (4 km / 120 km / 30 km)||154.0||1:10:05||3:03:19||1:54:18||0:05:04||6:12:44|
|17 August 2008||1st||Timberman Ironman 70.3 (half-Ironman distance)||113.2||0:26:20||2:21:02||1:21:42||0:02:44||4:11:46|
|30 July 2008||1st||Alpe d'Huez Long distance triathlon (2.2 km / 115 km / 22 km)||139.2||0:29:57||4:09:05||1:36:34||0:02:49||6:18:25|
|6 July 2008||1st||Ironman European Championship, Frankfurt am Main ||226.3||0:48:34||4:57:17||3:01:44||0:03:50||8:51:24.7|
|27 April 2008||22nd||Tongyeong BG Triathlon World Cup, Tongyeong (1.5 km / 40 km / 10 km) ||51.5||0:21:09||0:59:29||0:37:44||1:58:21|
|6 April 2008||1st||Ironman Australia Triathlon, Port Macquarie||226.3||0:53:27||5:08:34||3:01:53||9:03:55|
|2 December 2007||4th||Laguna Phuket Triathlon (1.8 km / 55 km / 12 km)||68.8||0:26:07||1:36:27||0:45:23||0:02:38||2:47:57|
|13 October 2007||1st||Ironman World Championship, Hawaii||226.3||0:58:09||5:06:15||2:59:58||0:04:25||9:08:45|
|2 September 2007||3rd||Singapore Ironman 70.3 (half-Ironman distance)||113.2||0:28:00||2:18:13||1:33:05||4:19:18|
|26 August 2007||1st||Ironman Korea, Seogwipo City||226.3||0:57:34||5:17:03||3:28:13||0:11:48||9:54:37|
|1 August 2007||1st||Alpe d'Huez Long distance triathlon (2.2 km / 115 km / 22 km)||139.2||0:31:08||4:27:11||1:41:07||0:03:49||6:43:15|
|15 July 2007||5th||Lorient ITU Long course world championship (3 km / 80 km / 20 km)||103.0||0:41:35||2:10:13||1:12:14||4:07:08|
|7 July 2007||5th||ITU Premium European Cup, Holten (1.5 km / 40 km / 10 km)||51.5||0:19:29||1:11:09||0:35:37||2:06:15|
|23 June 2007||1st||Zurich Olympic distance triathlon (1.5 km / 40 km / 10 km)||51.5||0:21:08||1:03:57||0:34:27||1:59:33.5|
|17 June 2007||5th||UK Ironman 70.3, Wimbleball, Exmoor (half-Ironman distance)||113.2||0:26:24||3:07:43||1:25:44||0:04:58||5:04:45|
|2 June 2007||1st||Blenheim Triathlon Sprint distance (750m / 19.3 km / 5.2 km)||25.25||0:10:59||0:31:57||0:20:30||0:04:24||1:07:50|
|5 May 2007||1st||Subic Bay ITU Triathlon Asian Cup (1.5 km / 40 km / 10 km)||51.5||0:18:03||1:07:48||0:37:48||2:03:41|
|1 April 2007||1st||Bangkok Triathlon (1.5 km / 40 km / 10 km)||51.5||0:14:39||1:00:51||0:43:59||1:59:28|
|25 March 2007||2nd||Mekong River ITU Triathlon Asian Cup (1.5 km / 40 km / 10 km)||51.5||1:55:47|
|2 September 2006||1st||ITU Age Group World Championship, Lausanne (1.5 km / 40 km / 10 km)||51.5||0:21:57||1:08:00||0:37:26||0:10:11||2:17:32|