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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Holly Lawrence

Holly LawrenceHolly Lawrence, born on the 25th of February 1990 in Wales is a 14 x 70.3 Ironman Champion triathlete who competed for Wales in the mixed relay event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and won the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship and runner-up in 2019. Lawrence is a fraternal triplet, and currently lives in Santa Monica, California.

Lawrence specialized in half Ironman biding her time before tackling the full ironman distances. Born a fraternal triplet she grew up being pretty competitive with her brother and sister, except she says she was the un-talented one compared to them.

"I actually think that helped me in the long-term as I never set my sights on winning or going to the Olympics, it was more about just being the best I could be."

After swimming and cross-country running from a young age she turned to olympic distance triathlon and moved up through the British ranks but never really had any real success.

It wasn’t until she decided to make the switch to non-drafting long distance triathlon that she felt like she had found the sport that suited her and that’s when I made the move to live in California.

Holly never looked back and won the Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia in 2016 and now feels she is lucky that she gets to do her hobby as a career - something she honestly never thought would be possible!

Holly Lawrence"I kind of only get to see places while racing so I don’t really get to experience too much, but I think I would still say Biarritz or anywhere in the South of France is my favorite place.

I used to race for a French Grand Prix team and got to spend a lot of time there - I love the culture, the food and the language!

Last season was a huge year for Holly as she is not only on top of her game, but she’s also got much better sponsors than she had before. Like so many triathletes though, Holly hasn’t always had so much support behind her.

“I had no salaries to pay,” remembers Holly. “I was going for the biggest races with the largest payouts just to make money - as I needed to pay for my car and rent. Top positions meant more money which means survival for me in the sport.”

"With bills to pay, it was do or die for me training in the USA - I only had an infinite amount of time before I had to decide to go back to the UK and move back in with my Mum and Dad!”

In 2017 though, things couldn’t be more different, and her parents at home in the UK were not expecting Holly to move home anytime soon - she was on top of her game.

“I had great sponsors, and the support and financial security that comes with that is amazing,” said Lawrence. “I’ve got my dream bike sponsor, Trek, and a mechanic who comes with me to races.” She has been a member of the Trek Factory Racing triathlon team since 2017.

Holly LawrenceWith all this support, Lawrence also feels more pressure than ever before. “Now there are more people I can disappoint too. It’s not like I can go home and forget about it if I have a bad race now,” said Holly.

“I’ve suffered in the UK with bad weather for so long which stifled my training - but it’s so awesome here in Santa Monica!”

With tremendously long hours of training and grueling rides in the outdoors, it’s no wonder Lawrence prefers the climate of the California coast.

“I have a swim club that I swim with, and we do one ocean swim every week - something that you’d never get the chance to do in the UK,” said Holly.

“I ride in the Santa Monica mountains, and I run with my boyfriend who is also my run coach, plus I have my bike trainer with Zwift all organised at home, it’s a pretty sweet set up.”

Moving to the USA has been perfect from the start, though it’s had its funny moments for Lawrence. “When I came to my first swim workout I expected it to be like the UK where no one really talks, you just do it and that’s it. Here though, everyone was high five-ing me and cheering me on saying ‘go for it’."

"I was like ‘are these people serious?’” laughed Holly. After the initial culture shock though, she’s settled in well and feels more at home training in the climate and good energy in the USA.

Holly Lawrence"It was a pretty easy decision to move out at first as I had started working with a U.S. based triathlon coach and my boyfriend at the time from the UK had gotten a job in the same place."

"It just made sense when I wanted to escape the cold wet winters of Swansea and have a consistent training base. But even when I left my coach and switched back to my UK based cycling coach early last year, I still just loved living out here."

"I love the sun and it makes such a difference to train all year round without having to keep an eye on the weather forecast, and when the majority of your day is spent outside it mades a huge difference."

"Also, where I live in Santa Monica, it’s so easy to drive to a lot of the races on the circuit which minimises travel, which I love!"

Her performance in winning the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Mooloolaba in 2016 was highly impressive – and she started her season in 2017 in fine style, winning IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside by nine minutes.

At just 27, she is expecting to improve and believes she will need to, despite her World Championship wins, “I feel like I didn’t beat everyone on their best day, so that drives me going forward”.

Holly Lawrence"I was actually pretty nervous before this race, just because it was the first race of the year and I was anxious to see where I was, it being the first real test.

Although training has been going great, I just haven’t had the opportunity to go that hard for that long since last year. Was it still even there?"

"I hadn’t run off the bike since last year, or even worn a wetsuit! I had an average swim, but it landed me in a perfect position to head out of T1 on my own so I could open up and just ride my race."

"I was really pleased how the bike went, I was just looking at my numbers feeling great, they were coming to me so easily, and was well in control."

"On the run I had a five minute lead over the next person so the goal was just to run steady, not needing to do anything special. That gives me a lot of confidence I could have definitely pushed harder on the run."

"I guess I never really felt like I had anything to lose or anything to prove, I have always just wanted to see where I could get. Being the best has never been my goal, I actually never thought I could be the best."

Holly Lawrence"I grew up in sport swimming, where I was the one that tried really hard but it never paid off, and I was ok with that. And I think in someway that has helped me today because my goals remain very much the same, I want to enjoy what I do, get the most out of myself and see where my limits are and I don’t think I’m anywhere near yet."

"It’s fantastic! I love this distance, I still think it’s a VERY long way, and right now I couldn’t imagine doing a full Ironman. I just want to get everything I can out of racing 70.3 first and see just how fast I can go, before trying out full distance."

"I’m 27, still young in terms of long distance triathletes and I want to have a long career. I also don’t think I could handle that much alone time, I think I would need to have some pretty deep personal issues that I needed to work through to race nearly 10 hours on my own!"

"I would love to race in the UK but unfortunately the races just aren’t big enough, the prize money, points and field are just a lot weaker. I’d love to race a European Championship soon, but it doesn’t really fit into my season this year so I’m hoping I can next year!"

"I will definitely be back at some point to see my family. That is the biggest sacrifice, although I am doing something I love and actually now making a career for myself and loving where I live. It tugs on the heart strings having to be away from them."

Holly LawrenceShe broke her ankle racing in Oceanside in a bit of a freak accident during 2018. She felt it go and heard it crack when she was riding but didn’t think much of it until she got off and tried to run.

"I kind of limped through transition and considered pulling the pin but honestly after what happened at 70.3 Worlds last year and never wanting to experience that again, as well as the thought that nobody would believe me, I just sucked it up and ran through it until I got over it."

"Tough or stupid?- your call. When I finished I couldn’t even put weight on it. After hoping and crossing everything that I could sleep it off and it’d be ok in the morning." (wishful thinking as an MRI confirmed it to be a fracture)

"I wanted the time to speak with my sponsors first before making any kind of announcement - and of course they are all supportive and I could not be more grateful to them during this time."

Dealing with her first major injury, having surgery and 3 months in a cast unable to walk or do anything she loves and facing a long road back - all while being thousands of miles away from her family.

Holly Lawrence"I handled it all pretty badly but out of all the hard times I probably learnt the most about myself and feel like I’ve grown as a person from it - after a lot of fuck-ups along the way."

“I decided to sign up for Escape from Alcatraz for my fun race. I signed up before the Olympic selection had been made and decided no matter happened with the selection it would be an epic, exciting race to do that would be good for my brain. It’s been on my bucket list since I saw it aired on TV a while back and it was perfect timing!”

At the start of the race the athletes dive, leap or even tumble off the side of the San Francisco Belle, which sails them all out to Alcatraz Island. They then self navigate the 1.5 mile swim back to shore. The term self navigate is accurate because there are no buoys for sighting once in the water. The only instructions being “swim across the river, then head right”.

"When you are standing on the top deck of the boat looking towards the Golden Gate Bridge and the shore - it is baffling trying to see what part of the vast San Francisco Bay is classified as ‘the river’!"

But, all said and done - she did it. Holly Lawrence made the fastest escape from Alcatraz that weekend en route to the biggest win of her career to date.

Holly Lawrence“In one word; awesome! This was a bit of a fun race for me, although like everyone else on that start line I race to win like any other race I didn’t feel any pressure or have any expectations. So the win just topped off a fun weekend!”

Lawrence, overcame all the other escapees, with Katie Zaferes finishing second and Lindsey Jerdonek in third place. Both Jerdonek and Katie Zaferes are ITU Series Triathletes, competing in draft-legal Olympic distance, circuit/lap type races.

“Watching YouTube videos of shark attacks and a shark eating a seal off the island of Alcatraz, sent to Holly by her training buddies before the race, certainly didn’t help!

www.hollylawrence.net

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2019 Schedule

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Dubai, UAE

  • 2nd place- 70.3 Ironman Oceanside , California

  • 1st place - 70.3 Ironman North American Championships, St. George, UT (course record.)

  • 1st Place - 70.3 Ironman Asia Pacific Championship, Vietnam (course record.)

  • 1st Place - 70.3 70.3 Ironman European Championships, Elsinore, NED.

  • 9/7-9/8 IRONMAN 70.3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - Nice

  • Dec. 70.3 Ironman Bahrain

2018 Results

  • 3rd place- 70.3 Ironman Dubai 

  • 2nd place- 70.3 Ironman Oceanside (Broken foot during race)

  • April-August Injured

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Bahrain

2017 Results

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Oceanside

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman St. George North American Championships

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Santa Rosa

  • 3rd place- Escape From Alcatraz *bike/run 

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Mont Tremblant

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Racine

  • DNF- 70.3 Ironman World Championships Chattanooga (Injured)

  • 3rd place- The Island House Triathlon

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Bahrain 

2016 results

  • 4th place- 70.3 Ironman Oceanside

  • 2nd place- 70.3 Ironman North American Championships

  • 1st place- Escape from Alcatraz triathlon

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Mount Tremblant

  • 1st place- 70.3 Ironman Vineman

  • 1st place-  70.3 Ironman World Championships Sunshine Coast

  • 1st place-Beijing International triathlon

  • 3rd place- Island House Triathlon

 

For full list of past results click here.

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