A TRIATHLETE from Girvan has seen her sporting career accelerate by competing for Team GB at international level - in only her second season.
Morag McDowall, 42, previously of Maxwell Street, placed fifth in the World Triathlon Age Group Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, last month.
An alumni of Girvan Amateur Athletic Club and having learnt to swim at the Girvan baths, Morag had been a keen long distance runner for years, but only joined a triathlon club in early 2012.
Now living in Fleet, Hampshire, Morag competed in her first triathlon at Eton’s Dorney Lake last summer, and was “blown away” at coming fifth.
Her next attempt at Chichester saw her place third, and on joining Fleet Tri Club in January was encouraged to train for the World Qualifier events.
Despite suffering symptoms mimicking glandular fever earlier this year that could have ended her season before it had begun, Morag’s fitness returned with a vengeance - and a series of podium placings in local races.
And she soon found herself a member of Team GB at the World Triathlon Championships in Auckland.
“I was pretty blown away that I’d made the cut for the team and couldn’t wait to race in Auckland,” said Morag, who competed in the 40-45 age group.
Her objectives were simply to enjoy the experience, race as hard as she could and not come last, but Morag found herself faced with some challenging conditions on the day.
Forced to battle in a 750-metre swim in choppy water comparable to a washing machine, a tough 20km bike course followed by a 5km run - as well as a 7.20am start - Morag competed alongside the event’s largest ever number of participants - more than 3000 from 45 different countries - including Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee.
And despite having some problems with gears during an uphill stretch on her bike, Morag managed to claw back some of the places she lost, overtaking some other GB competitors in her run - including some from the younger classes - and came 36th of 74.
“I was just so pleased to be there and to have the chance to race and finish after all the bike issues that I’d had,” she said,
“It was such an awesome feeling to run down the blue carpet feeling so good and strong.
“I burst into tears at the end; I was overcome with sense of occasion and achievement.”
Now into winter training, Morag wants to compete again next year - this time on home turf - and improve on her time - despite already being 7th Brit of 14.
“I had the best adventure ever and was so proud to wear the GB trisuit,” she added.