You won your first Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii(a gruelling 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile cycle ride before running a marathon to the finish line) in 2007, less than a year after turning pro. How much of a surprise was that?

I didn’t even envisage doing an Ironman, I didn’t even really know what it was as a discipline, or understand the significance of Hawaii. I turned pro with the idea of becoming an Olympic triathlete (demanding a paltry 0.93-mile swim, 24.85-mile bike ride and 6.21-mile run).

Chrissie Wellington

Which part of the course do you find the most difficult?

The opening swim is always a bit frantic. It’s like a Friday-night pub brawl. There are fists and legs and body parts flying around – it would probably be quite enjoyable if it wasn’t at 6.45 in the morning.

Have you ever given thought to specialising in one event?

My talent is being able to maintain high levels of power for nine hours. That’s why I’m good in the Ironman – not because I’m a good cyclist, swimmer or runner, but because I can put them together over that length of time.

Can you genuinely lay claim to being the fittest woman in Britain?

Well, if you put me in a 400m race I wouldn’t be able to keep up but – (hesitates) – yes, I am incredibly fit. But there are different types of fitness. I wouldn’t want to take anything away from the swimmers, the cyclists and the runners out there who have achieved so much. But I’m definitely fitter than the average footballer.

Is darts a sport?

I consider darts to be a skill. I don’t think you can consider an activity where you have a pint in one hand and a needle in the other a sport. For me sport is all about your body and mind being at a peak. (60 secs: So you wouldn’t consider sneaking in a cheeky pint during a transition then?) Well, I suppose I could put it in my camelback.

What famous person would you most like to meet?

David Attenborough, Roger Bannister, or Lindford Christie – but not necessarily for his athletic prowess. (60 secs: Sorry, you’ll have to explain that, we don’t get what you mean) I’ve actually met him a few times, he’s a triathlete these days.

Who would you most like to give a stern talking to?

I’d like to meet George W Bush and just ask him: ‘Why?’. His final press conference summed him up as a man and a president. The man’s an idiot. Also, any drug cheats.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Apart from the usual toilet issues which all Ironman competitors face – having stains showing up where you don’t want them – not being able to fit my gas cannisters to the tyres on my bike for ages in Hawaii last year, with all the TV cameras on me, was quite embarrassing.

How long do you take to get ready in the morning?

The time it takes me to get my lycra on and get out of the door for a morning run, swim or ride.

What food would you never eat?

As I’ve travelled around the world I’ve had rat, snake, dog, monkey – there’s not much I haven’t tried. I’m not too keen on mayonnaise.

What single item would you take to a desert island?

My best friend, Georgina.

What three things do you most cherish?

My family, my Hawaii trophies and Vaseline (for the chafing during races, apparently).

What word to you overuse?


Who was your sporting hero?

As a child it was very much Sharron Davies and Zola Budd.

What is your favourite film?


What’s on your iPod?

I like a lot of rock bands like Foo Fighters, The Killers and Feeder. Then of course Madonna, and some Chesney Hawkes.

What was the first record you bought?

MC Hammer. That was also the first concert I ever went to – I can still recite all the lyrics to You Can’t Touch This.

Chrissie is a fundraiser for British youth charity Envision (, Girls Education Nepal ( and Macmillan Cancer Support ( Keep up to date with her at

Tony Mabert / Eurosport