After five years of spectating at the Ironman World Championship, American professional triathlete Heather Jackson, who is known for her strength at the half-iron distance, will look to compete in Kona for the first time as a pro in 2014.
Though she’s avoided the big race in her professional career, it won’t be her first time racing in Kona.
“The first year I got into triathlon in 2008, I actually did Kona as an age-grouper—I got a spot at Oceanside,” Jackson told Paul Huddle and Bob Babbitt on Competitor Radio. “So I had done it as an age grouper and I remember thinking ‘this is horrible. I’m never doing this again.’”
Jackson will open her season at the Ironman 70.3 Panama triathlon on Feb. 16 before competing at Ironman 70.3 California. She still plans to defend her title at the Wildflower Long Course triathlon, where she is a three-time winner, before taking on Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 29. She hopes the points from her second-place finish at the 2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championship combined with points from Panama, Oceanside and Coeur d’Alene will be enough to qualify her for the Ironman World Championship.
She still plans to compete at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sept. 7 in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, but the focus will be on Kona on Oct. 11.
“For me it’s always been about Kona,” she explained on Competitor Radio. “It was about being smart. This was the first year that I was on the moto watching and thinking ‘I want to be out here.’ I don’t want to go back to Kona again not on the start line.”
For more on Jackson’s jump up to Ironman, listen to the Competitor Radio interview here.