Estwanik relishing new lease of life
Ashley Estwanik continues her “triathlon adventure” tomorrow when she competes at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Mooloolaba, Queensland.
Estwanik qualified for the championship after coming second in her age group at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championships in Utah in May — her first full triathlon.
She joins local triathletes Neil Lupsic, Allison Petty Schindel and Phil Mace in Queensland, while her cousin Tyler Butterfield has also made the long journey Down Under for the elite men's race.
Estwanik said the positive energy at the sports-orientated Mooloolaba, a superb and tourist resort on the Sunshine Coast, was contagious and felt optimistic of a strong performance in the women's 30-39 age group.
“I'm really excited to be here and the whole town seems full of athletes,” Estwanik said.
“The atmosphere and community here is very sports orientated. Everywhere you go there are sports stores and bike shops, and the whole way of life seems sports. There's a great energy here with all these top athletes coming for this event — it's awesome!”
Estwanik, a six-times Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby winner, only took up triathlon to satisfy her competitive juices after an Achilles tendon problem prevented her from running.
The injury has proved to be a “silver lining”, setting Estwanik on an unexpected path and falling in love with a sport which she hopes will prolong her competitive career.
“My Achilles injury is a huge bummer but the silver lining is that I've found triathlon and I love it,” said Estwanik, who is likely to abandon plans to run the New York Marathon in November because of her niggles.
“Sadly I don't think I will ever be able to run the way I did before the injuries and it gets harder as you get older.
“Triathlon is much easier on your body. In the swim you're using different types of muscles and the cycling is straight cardiovascular and very low impact. You're not hurting your body like when you're constantly running.
“I think I want to stay with this sport. It's a great way to explore the world. I'm already planning my next one!”
Estwanik has concentrated on improving her swimming — her weakest of the three discipline — since qualifying for the championships when she placed second in her category in Miami in a time of 5hr 05min 59sec.
“The waves should have calmed down by Sunday and as long as I don't get eaten by sharks I should be good,” Estwanik said.
“The bike I'm feeling good about and the run, as long as my calf is OK, will my best out of the three. Looking at last year's times, my swim doesn't place me very good at all, but my bike and run are pretty comparable to the top five in the age group.”
It is hardly surprising Estwanik has taken so well to another endurance sport, given her family background. Her mother Peggy Couper was one of Bermuda's top female road runners in the 1980s, uncle Jim Butterfield is an Olympic rower and former triathlete and aunt Debbie is a multiple May 24 winner.