Nicole Walker is exhausted but says coming in 16th place was worth it and has inspired her to push herself more.
The 27-year-old Winnipeg triathlete is spending Thanksgiving in Kona, Hawaii, recovering from a gruelling race.
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Walker swam, biked and ran in extreme heat at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii on the weekend and placed 7th in her age group and 16th out of some 1,200 women in the female amateur athlete category.
"I was the top North American girl" in my age group, Walker told CBC Monday when reached by phone.
Walker said she competed against very talented female athletes from Germany and Australia who have inspired her to push herself further.
"It was really nice to come here and see like what the Germans and the Australian girls are racing like, because I haven't had that competition," she said.
"That makes me hungry to improve some more, because I was a little lower down than I have been in the North American races."
Saturday's race was much harder than Walker expected, she said — with the humidex, it felt like 40 C.
"It was definitely the hottest that I've ever been, and I've raced in a fair bit of heat," she said. Trade winds and riding her bike on an incline at high elevation were also challenges, she said.
"Usually on the run, I feel like that, but on the bike, I've never felt like that."
Walker biked for five hours and 42 minutes, swam for over an hour and ran a full marathon.
She said she thinks her placing was the fastest time ever for a female triathlete from Manitoba. After taking a break in Kona after competing, she plans to come back to Manitoba and continue training.
"I couldn't have asked for a better experience," Walker said.
Nicole Walker was the top North American athlete in her age and gender categories. A previous version of this article said she was the top North American girl.Oct 11, 2016 2:07 PM CT