A TROUBLESOME knee which prevented her from running - it was hardly the ideal preparation as Bathurst triathlete Peta Cutler attempted to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, but in the end it mattered little.
Not only did Cutler finish inside the top six of her 35-39 years women's age group at the Western Sydney Ironman 70.3 to earn what will be her second World Championships appearance, she clocked a personal best time.
Cutler covered the 1.9 kilometre swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km course in a time of four hours, 37 minutes and 13 seconds to place second in her age group and remarkably ninth of the 341 overall female competitors.
Her personal best mark was achieved by lowering her personal best in each of the three splits - a 30:29 swim, 2:28.0 ride and most impressively, 1:33.45 in the run despite her knee issue.
"I had a sore knee probably two weeks out from the race, so I had stop running and hope for the best," Cutler revealed.
"Then in the race I felt it on the bike and thought my day was done, but I managed to get my run leg going and get through it.
"I felt really good in the run, I knew I had a bit of a buffer to third place so at the back end of the run I knew I could slow it down a touch. I knew I wasn't going to catch first, but just slowing that down let me push through to the end."
Cutler, who clocked a 5:07.04 at last year's Western Sydney 70.3 Ironman when making her return to triathlon, had been targeting the 2019 edition of the race since discovering it was a qualifier for the Taupo hosted worlds.
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"Western Sydney for me was my goal 12 months ago, I had it in my mind, it's what I wanted to build up to because I really wanted to go to New Zealand for the World Championship," she said.
"I am so happy with how I went, I think it's been a great year and feel like I got the result I deserved because I'd worked really hard.
"I was really surprised. I enter these races and like everyone, I get really intimidated at the start and think 'Oh how am I going to go?' but for me, I just have to run my own race. Western Sydney, I didn't care about anyone else but me, I had some numbers in my head and thought that if I could hit those numbers I'd leave happy.
"To get second to a really classy athlete and ninth overall, I couldn't have asked for anything more. To qualify for worlds I am so excited, I knew I had to get in the top six in my age group to do that, so I'm just so happy."
Cutler is familiar with what lies ahead at Taupo, having done a full Ironman race there in 2016. On that occasion she smashed her personal best for the distance by almost an hour.
While she will face stiffer opposition when she returns in November 2020 given it will be an Ironman 70.3 World Championships with some 5,000 competitors expected, she will have an ally.
Fellow Bathurst triathlete Terry Roberts has qualified for the World Championships as well thanks to a stellar performance at Western Sydney.
He placed third in his 55-59 years male division as he covered the course in 4:43.31.
"I'm familiar with the course, I've got one of my great mates in Terry Roberts coming with me, so it's just going to be the ultimate," Cutler said.