Zucht sets new personal best at Santa Rosa 

Local Ironman racer qualifies for World Championships

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - HAWAII-BOUNDMarla Zucht will head back to Kona after qualifying for the Ironman World Championships.
  • Photo submitted
  • HAWAII-BOUNDMarla Zucht will head back to Kona after qualifying for the Ironman World Championships.

Marla Zucht knows she'll be heading back to Hawaii in October.

The 47-year-old took third in the women's 45-to-49 age category at Ironman Santa Rosa on May 11 to punch her ticket to the Ironman World Championships for a fourth time.

The Whistlerite also managed to complete the course in a personal-best time of 10 hours, 38 minutes and seven seconds (10:38:07) as she successfully opened her season.

Zucht said pulling off such an accomplishment was a bit difficult to imagine, as she was skiing the weekend before heading to California in early May. However, she managed to get into summer mode quickly, even if she didn't realize her pace in the moment.

"I didn't know while I was on the course that I was on-track for doing that," she said. "I had a really great race. I felt prepared going into it. My body feels good."

Zucht said her swim, 18th best among her division, was on par for what she normally achieves, but her bike time helped provide a major boost to her overall result.

She had worked hard over the winter to strengthen her bike performance by riding an indoor trainer, and the improvement was apparent as she was third in her division.

"I felt super strong on the bike," she said.

Wrapping with the marathon, Zucht stayed strong, once again earning the third-best time among her peers.

"I was able to turn the legs over really well. I started off with a really strong pace, which I maintained for most of the marathon. In the last 5 km, I started to slow down a little bit. I was getting quite fatigued at that point 10 hours in," she said.

With Santa Rosa being her 14th Ironman, Zucht said she's making gradual improvements every time out, with her nutrition and hydration working better this time around.

"In the past, I've gone into the marathon where I've been in a calorie deficit, so I don't have enough energy in the tank to pull off a marathon," she said. "It just seemed like everything came together for me this time.

"There's something to be said for more experience and familiarity."

That confidence will help Zucht keep going throughout the summer knowing worlds is on the way. Qualifying early is key to Zucht mapping out her season accordingly with the knowledge that her season will run until October rather than wrapping in July.

"Not that I'll be off the gas by any means—with those distances, I have to keep up the training consistently—but it for sure takes some of the pressure off going into Whistler for the Ironman Canada," she said.

Zucht has a few other events before returning to the Big Island. She'll compete in the Oliver Half Iron and inaugural Whistler X Triathlon in June before taking on Subaru Ironman Canada at the end of July.

Zucht is particularly excited for the Whistler X Triathlon, slated for June 9, for a change of pace, as she last raced an off-road triathlon about 15 years ago.

"I mountain bike lots and I trail run lots, so I'm really excited about it," she said.

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