The Kona Contest
How Joyce handled her withering hopes in 2012, and what it will take to win.
Leanda Cave (reigning Ironman and Ironman 70.3 world champion): Rachel is definitely a contender to win Kona. Absolutely. She’s smart, you know? She’s very disciplined and very calculated with everything she does — and it certainly pays off. She’ll be there this year with 100 percent A game.
Dave Scott (six-time Ironman world champion and Joyce’s coach since January 2013): Let’s just say I’ve seen the other side with a lot of professional triathletes where they don’t have the internal tenacity and incredible willpower to win Kona. Rachel has the characteristics. She has the thunder to do it. I think that among the pros there are certainly a select number who are really going to be the best. She has that potential.
Emma-Kate Lidbury (Ironman 70.3 champion and Joyce’s longtime training partner): Two days out from the race I went to see her at her condo. I was struggling to stay positive for her. Disappointed isn’t the right word for it—I was heartbroken for her. But there she was with her tonsil infection and she was the one saying, “If I can race, then I’m going to race. I’ve got to at least try. Because then I’ll always know that I started and did my best.”
Brett Hedges (Joyce’s boyfriend): She said that she was excited on the start line, so I think she felt at the time she was in the right place. There are pictures of her in the water with Caroline [Steffen] and she’s smiling. But from halfway on the bike her power shows that she obviously didn’t have it. She was very sick, yet she managed to come 11th. She’s ferociously strong physically and mentally, the way she handled that.
Joyce: I felt so rotten in certain parts of that race. Coming back from Hawi I felt like the entire field came past me. Then on the first seven miles of the run I was crying behind my sunglasses. I guess what I’m happy about is that I completely changed my mind-set. I managed to actually kind of enjoy the rest of the race. I encouraged my other competitors and I just thought, “I’ve got another 20 miles to run, so I might as well try to enjoy it. Because if I’m still crying behind my sunglasses it’s not going to get any better!”
Lidbury: The fact that she was so sick and still came 11th is a testament to the person that she is. Put her in there on the right day, and you’re going to see something pretty special.