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Natascha Badmann, current Queen of Kona, is coming back strong

“These were 3 weeks with really lovely weather!
The main focus in this training camp lay on cycling. Thanks to the best material and great food (thank you, cook Toni!) I could do every planned training. I have done great progress with my balance and the mobility on the wheel. Till recently I could sit upright in the saddle and go, but giving hand signs was not possible. For eating and drinking I had to stop. Now, I am able to drink and to eat while riding.”

Well the current queen of Ironman, Natascha Badmann, seems to be making a valiant effort to regain fitness after the horrible bike crash she had at the 2007 Ironman Hawaii World Championships. For those that did not spend all day cooped up with three computers (one for live coverage hooked up to my giant screen tv, the other two laptops for Aaron and me to slowtwitch/tritalk forum post) on that fateful day in October, what happened was that Natascha crashed into a cone after a motorcycle got too close to her.

Her extensive website at nataschabadmann.ch is full of great updates and even a store and is run by her partner and coach Toni Hasler.

As a reminder, let’s go through some of her 2007 accomplishments (listed on her site):

-6 races 6 victories
-Victory Ironman South Africa in March: over 25 minutes lead to the world champion in long-distance and a sensational 8th place overall!!
*With this it would have been the first time that a women has prize money claim within the mans field.
-Natascha set a new world record at the Ironman 70.3 distance in the USA.

Ok so some might question – why is she the current queen of Kona when she did not win in 2006, when Michellie Jones won Kona, or 2007 when newbie Chrissie Wellington shocked everyone (including the commentators that could not believe she was “running without a newton visor,” oh wait I meant “running without a visor”)?

Well that is easy – in the past decade no other woman has had the same level of success as Natascha. No other. Not even close. And when she retires she will take her place as the second best woman Ironman ever behind Paula.

Name me one woman with similar accomplishments on the big island? You can’t. Year in and year out she had consistently solid wins that lead her up to big smackdowns in Kona. Here in the US she does not get nearly as much of the attention that she deserves since she traditionally trains overseas or at home – thousands of miles away from San Diego, Boulder, or Florida. But the truth is that no other woman in recent times has “matured” in Ironman as well as she has. Ok, Heather Fuhr comes close – and she is probably the one asterisk that comes to mind. Heather’s 15 Ironman victories are only second to the great Paula Newby-Frasier, but in Kona she “only” earned one crown (by the way her site is heatherfuhr.com ) I am not trying to diss Heather, but I am sure that she’d give up a few Ironman victories for another first in the lava fields – maybe 3:1 exchange? Oh and another tidbit about Heather’s running prowess – she clocked a 2:51 Ironman marathon back in eary 90s. 2:51 – gulp!

Additionally, Natascha’s 70.3 record is just mind blowing. Did Mirinda Carfrae, or Samantha McGlone, or a Becky Lavelle or Julie Dibens set the half-ironman record? No sir. A forty year old lady with a smile from here to Switzerland managed to outpace younger, “leaner,” “stronger,” women to post the fastest 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run combination.

By the way, I really think that our “new” cast of women WILL break the Ironman record in the next few years. Will it be at Challenge Roth? Could the new record realistically be set in Hawaii if they had good weather? What happens if we have Natascha, and Michellie being caught by Chrissie and Samantha with 5 miles to go? What if it ends like Ironman Arizona 2008 with 74 seconds separating 1st-4th?

**My buddy Aaron prompted me to complete this entry: on June 10, 2007 at the Eagleman 70.3 Half Ironman in Cambridge Maryland, Badmann posted a total time of 4:08:17. That time bested the previous record set by Karen Smyers back at the the 1996 ITU Long Course Championship. It is pretty amazing that the record stood for eleven years, given how much talent we have seen emerge. At Eagleman she placed 14th overall with terrific conditions (this is the race where Iowan TJ Tollakson recorded his first major pro victory with a 3:46:28). Natascha’s splits were: 26:06 swim, 2:15:07 bike (hello! 25 miles per hour baby!), and a 1:23:09 knocking off 6:21 pace on the run. Triathletemag.com had a great story on this race here.

The 2007 Eagleman Results are here.

Stay tuned, because if Natascha regains her old ways we might just have a forty one year old win Ironman Hawaii 2008.

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May 14, 2008 at 2:19 pm
1 comment »
  • May 14, 2008 at 2:34 pmAaron Sjogren

    Good info…just one question, (completely out of curiosity) what was the time for the 70.3 record she set?

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