Fenella Langridge: The Road to Kona
Posted by Andrew Davidson on October 5, 2022
Britain’s Fenella Langridge has been making waves in the pro triathlon field this season. With a win at the half-distance Challenge Salou, an impressive 8th in the delayed 2021 Ironman Worlds in St. George, followed by a silver at the Challenge Roth, she’s now ready to make a splash on her first trip to the Hawaiian island for the Kona Ironman World Championships. Progressing from Olympic distance triathlon where she began her career, to 70.3 and now Ironman events, she’s finding more success as the race days get longer and is hoping that trend continues this week.
We had a quick chat with the rising talent as she prepares to take on the iconic island event that is KONA!
Going right back to the start of it all, what was it that got you started in triathlon?
As a kid, I was always really passionate about sport, exercise and being outside. You couldn’t keep me still for too long, so I think that’s where I found my feet with sport, to begin with. The people as well, I’d be in lots of different clubs with lots of different age groups and I just loved being in that kind of environment of young and old, training and competing together. I was quite a high-level field hockey player growing up and chose to focus on it in my first year of university but found that the hard work I put in wasn’t always illustrated in the results. I moved over to running where the harder you work the faster you get, then jumped back in the pool and found a really good squad to train with and triathlon came together in the final year of university. I never looked back.
Can you think of three words that would sum up the feelings of being in Hawaii and competing in your first Kona Ironman world championship?
There’s certainly an “energy” about the island that’s really infectious and positive, which I love. It has definitely been a “championship” year, having Saint George, then ROTH, there’s been the PTO Tour races and now this, a lot of marquee events. It’s really “exciting”, some people don’t even get the chance to come to Hawaii on holiday and to say you’re here doing this as your job, sometimes it’s a real pinch-me moment to think I’m actually here!
Preparation is the key to success, what kind of on-bike work do you do to prepare for an event like Kona and how does power data play a role?
This year has all been about the longer distances, full Ironman, so the training has been different than if I was focusing more on 70.3, especially now as the 70.3 field progresses and gets even more competitive and more like the Olympic distance of racing. My training in terms of power is quite polarized at the beginning of the season with really long easy rides paired with shorter high-intensity rides, getting into the V02max range. As we move toward race season we still have easy stuff but the harder sessions become more specific to Ironman, so doing intervals at around 4 Watts/kg which is what I aim to be racing at. Starting off we were doing 15 min blocks at that output and then we’d build up to doing that for an hour and eventually 4-5 hrs. In the 6-8 weeks leading into Kona, we’ve kept the efforts mostly below threshold to reduce fatigue.
What would be your advice or words of motivation to someone who’s considering signing up for their first triathlon?
Just sign up! The triathlon community is amazing, and everyone’s willing to help and share advice. I remember my first few triathlons I was doing it with borrowed pieces of equipment, it’s not the end of the world, it’s more about being there, being with everyone else and completing it together. This Thursday we’ll all be racing the same course, whether you’re a professional or just trying to finish it, everyone’s in the same boat that day, working in the same conditions.