Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Ironman: Tears at finish line as Lawn runs her last race

Winner Catriona Morrison, of Great Britain, welcomes home third-placed Jo Lawn in the New Zealander's final ever race. Photo / Richard Robinson
Winner Catriona Morrison, of Great Britain, welcomes home third-placed Jo Lawn in the New Zealander's final ever race. Photo / Richard Robinson

If anything, Jo Lawn's third place in yesterday's Ironman 70.3 Auckland has made a tough decision even tougher.

Lawn, 40, intends to retire from racing professionally to try to start a family with husband Armando Galarraga but her tears on the finish line as she followed Catriona Morrison and Annabel Luxford home proved it's not going to be easy for the seven-time Ironman New Zealand champion to let go.

Yesterday might have been the last time Lawn will race as a pro but she stopped short of confirming it.

"I don't want to stop because I love it but there's a time that you have to move on," Lawn said.

"It's very hard to know when to stop but it's always there, so I'll always be involved in it because it's been a big part of my life for 15, 20 years.

"I've got to move on to the next chapter of my life."

In truth, her farewell tour probably started last year when Lawn decided not to race Ironman NZ in Taupo in March - a race her name has become synonymous with a few years after she first raced there as a 26-year-old in 2000. Instead, she raced in Wanaka, determined to see more of New Zealand, and that spirit of wanting to see and do new things took her and Galarraga around the world - and not necessarily to race.

It also meant she bypassed the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, a race she always dreamed of winning as a professional, but never quite managed to crack. Her best placings were two fourths - in 2005 and 2007.

While she, like many of the world's best triathletes, couldn't make the podium at Kona, her achievements at Taupo are almost without peer.

With a background in road cycling - she represented New Zealand at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia - Lawn first competed in Taupo as an age group athlete.

"I said I'd never ever do another one of these," she said yesterday of her thoughts on the finish line after her first long-distance triathlon.

Instead, she did another 12 inTaupo, and many more around the world.

She was fourth there in her first year as a professional, second in her next and from 2003 to 2010 she was unbeaten, racking up numerous course records in the process.

Yesterday in hot conditions in her home city of Auckland she struggled through the run on her way to the podium.

"Everyone has ups and downs in races. Today I had a terrible stomach on the run but you just deal with it and move on."

Lawn believed race winner Morrison, from Scotland, she was a kindred spirit.

"I've raced Cat for many many years and she is as tough as me and I'm pretty tough. I knew she would attack on the run."

- APNZ

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