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Canada’s Elizabeth Model shares the lessons learned from finishing 100 Ironman races

BC native manages to balance busy work schedule with Ironman record-setting performances

Photo by: FinisherPix
At Ironman Wisconsin earlier this month Canadian Elizabeth Model hit a huge milestone when she completed her 100th full-distance race. We’ve written about Model and her partner, John Wragg more than a few times here at Triathlon Magazine Canada. He completed his 259th full-distance race in Wisconsin.

Related: 99 and counting in Cozumel – Elizabeth Model nears 100 Ironmans

When Model met Wragg at Ironman Arizona in 2006, she had just finished her second Ironman race. After that, though, she quickly began an amazing adventure that saw her become the first woman to complete every Ironman in the world, a feat she accomplished in 2016. Now she joins American Susan Haag, who finished her 100th full-distance race in 2016 and is now up to 122, as one of only two woman to have reached the century mark of full-distance triathlons.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Model said in a news release. “I never started out thinking about numbers. It’s always been travel, keeping fit and meeting wonderful people along the road of explorations.”
The COVID-19 pandemic sidelined Model’s goal to reach 100 fulls in 2020 – she was entered in Ironman South Africa that year. Instead she had to wait and make the trip from her home in Surrey to Wisconsin to hit the milestone. We caught up with the executive director of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association after the race for her thoughts about achieving the impressive milestone.

Related: Canada’s iron lady – Elizabeth Model’s Ironman record

Photo: FinisherPix
Triathlon Magazine Canada: How satisfying is it to have completed the 100th?
Elizabeth Model: After 22 months training for nothing, we finally got it done and the monkey off my back. I am hugely satisfied.
You were hoping to get this done last year in South Africa – how hard has it been to stay motivated through the pandemic?
I knew that if I continued to train, I would be ready to go within a month when the opportunity presented itself. That was my motivation. The other was I didn’t want to get fat. So I wanted to keep in shape and maintain the fitness level that was, and is, important to me.
What have you learned along the way in this journey to 100 full-distance finishes?
Nothing is a given. Each race, and what your body gives you, is what you have for that day. Prepared the very best that you can, and be ready to adapt and be flexible. It’s all about finishing, and it’s what you have between the ears. Be kind to yourself if things don’t always go as you want or had planned.
You’re not stopping at 100, it would appear – what else is on tap for 2021?
We (Model and Wragg) have scheduled Portugal and Cozumel, and have booked out travel. Then again, we can only hope for the best and expect to be flexible.
What is the biggest challenge for you to be able to compete in, and complete, all these races?
I hate to say this and admit it, but my age and past injuries (skiing accident in 2015 ) are coming back to roost. It’s what my body can do for that day. All the miles are slowly starting to catch up.
How do you manage to fit it all in with work – training and travel? 
I do it by carving out time out for me – time to unplug and be with myself. That, for me, means beating the world in the waking hours. I am up at 4:45am and doing what I do to train without any distractions. After 8;30 am, I am available for work until I go to bed. Then I unplug, rest and repeat.