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Laundry overcomes the odds

After a potentially career-ending crash in Nice last September, Jackson Laundry has bounced back to top-level racing.

COVID-19

After his horrendous crash in Nice last year where he shattered his scapula, Jackson Laundry somehow managed to bounce back with a runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Campeche last week.

Jackson Laundry on the run at Ironman 70.3 Campeche. Photo: @trimexico

Triathlon Magazine Canada: Can you tell us a bit about the day and how the race went?

Jackson Laundry: The swim was a very fair start, no countdown, just silence and then the air horn. I wish every race started this way! I had a quick reaction and quickly got out near the front, I settled into the pack and swam right on Cody Beals’ feet the whole time. This was a brilliant swim for me as I was somewhat uncertain about if I would be ready to compete like I did before in the water.

The bike had a big climb and two technical descents early on, this blew the race apart and I found myself alone in third about 20 minutes in. I worked hard to catch Matt Hanson, and the two of us would go back and forth a few times throughout the ride. Nick Chase maintained his lead and Michael Weiss passed us and got about 20 seconds ahead by the end of the bike. I started the run in fourth, a few seconds behind Hanson, 25 behind Weiss, and around two minutes behind Nick Chase. Hanson set a good pace and I kept him within a few seconds for about 5 km. He then really picked it up and I wasn’t able to go with him. I moved into third at around 5km and set my sights on Weiss in second. I started to feel strong and picked it up in the middle section of the run, catching Weiss around 8 km. I ran strong to the finish coming in just over a minute behind Hanson who had a brilliant day.

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Were you surprised at how well things went considering you were coming back from the injury?

I wouldn’t say I was surprised that the day was going well, I certainly knew that I could do it. Getting a good start in the swim really put me in a positive head space, and I used that positive energy for the whole race. The small things that went wrong like losing a bottle or two didn’t phase me at all because of the attitude I had taken from the start.

I felt so happy just to be racing again and feeling like my old self, nothing was going to bring me down.

Photo: courtesy Jackson Laundry

You raced so well that many people won’t understand just how bad your injury was. Can you talk a bit about the injury, how you managed to rehab and if you’re still having any issues?

In the crash in September (at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice) I broke my clavicle and my scapula in 12 places. My shoulder needed surgery in three places for the bones to be re-aligned properly. The recovery was extensive and I wasn’t able to swim properly until January. I spent three months almost exclusively focusing on rehab and just maintaining some general fitness and strength. Once the shoulder was mostly better, fitness returned quickly. I do still have some minor pain, and my swimming isn’t as good as it was before, but I am confident that it won’t slow me down in the long run. I may always have some mild lingering pain and tightness, but it won’t affect my performance.

What’s been the biggest challenge since the injury in Nice last year?

I think the biggest challenge was adjusting the change in routine and the temporary loss of my ability to train and race. The pain level was pretty extreme early on, but I know that would pass. Seeing progression almost every day assured me that I would be back to normal and allowed me to stay mostly positive.

Now you’re back home, you’ve got two weeks of isolation. How are you going to handle training over the next bit as we deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Since my next two races (at least) are postponed or cancelled, I wont be racing for a minimum of seven weeks. I will take the first week quite relaxed to fully recover and allow a little bit of de-training, then build back up assuming I will be racing Monterrey 70.3 in early May. This plan will probably change, but I’ll just have to be flexible.

I wont be able to swim, but I have a set of swim bands and a bench to lie on to do some simulated swimming. Pools are also closed until April 5 in Guelph, hopefully we can get an accommodation for pro athletes who need to train if the pool closures are extended beyond that.

Photo: @trimexico

Finally, I assume you qualified for Taupo? And can I also assume that will be the big goal for this year?

I did get the slot for Taupo 70.3 worlds at Campeche, and I am really hoping to go! As long as racing returns fairly quickly, I anticipate going to Taupo. If races don’t start happening until late summer, I likely won’t be able to afford the trip and may have to stay in North America for my late season races.