Who has a baby in September, gets fourth place at Ironman 70.3 St. George North American Championships, and wins their first Ironman race since Kona in 2015? Ms. Rachel Joyce, that’s who!
The mum of 9-month-old Archie battled the tough-as-nails Heather Jackson to take the win this past weekend at Ironman Boulder. Joyce is no stranger to winning Ironmans, but the guts, perseverance, and grit she showed on Sunday not only prove she’s back, but that she might even be better than ever.
Joyce was the second female out of the water, 54:59, behind Colorado Springs’ Kelly Williamson, 54:56, but was able to get out of T1 first and begin her always-strong cycling leg. Joyce stretched out a nice lead on Heather Jackson, who would be her eventual shadow.
For most of the bike, Joyce put down the hammer, knowing Jackson would be clawing her way up to try to snag the lead, which she did in the last third of the bike. However, Joyce did not give her lead away easily and the gritty Brit traded off the lead until Jackson finally pulled away, giving herself about a three-minute cushion going into T2. Jackson posted the fastest bike split of the day in 4:49:06, with Joyce posting the second fastest in 4:56:09.
Anyone who knows Joyce is aware that not only can she run, but she can run hard and fast, especially when she’s chasing—and that’s exactly what she did. Slowly but surely, Joyce began chipping away at Jackson’s steady lead and by the halfway mark, was only 1:45 down. From there, Joyce picked up her pace and took back the lead in her hometown race around mile 17.
The joy on Joyce’s face as she ran down the finisher’s shoot was priceless. It was a victory for herself, her family, and every mom who doubts that they may not return to sport or competition as they start the new journey called motherhood. Only seconds after crossing the finish line, and finishing the fastest women’s run split of the day, 3:16:01, Joyce was on another mission, finding her family.
“This was the longest amount of time that I have ever been away from Archie since he was born,” said Joyce, who finished with a winning time of 9:13:32. It was a bittersweet moment as she embraced sweet Archie and got a warm welcome from her partner, Brett, and her parents who were in from England to watch her race.
Jackson easily held onto second place with a time of 9:20:42, followed by Colorado’s Danielle Mack, the defending Ironman Boulder pro champion, in 9:42:16. Williamson had a stellar day finishing fourth, 9:44:08, as did Colorado’s Uli Bromme in fifth, 9:52:32, and Kimberly Goodell in sixth, 10:13:34.
“I still can’t quite believe I won,” Joyce said. Well, you’re the only one, Rach! Congrats to all of the pro and age-group women who tackled Ironman Boulder this weekend!