Injury-hit Bartlett clinches hard-earned comeback win
CHELTENHAM endurance athlete Nikki Bartlett made a triumphant return from injury to win the Cotswold 113 half ironman triathlon.
The 2011 Gloucestershire Media sports personality of the year ended 13 months of frustration by finishing 16 minutes ahead of the runner-up.
The half ironman consisted of a 1.9km swim in Ashton Keynes water park, followed by a 56-mile bike course, finishing with a half marathon (13.1 miles).
Former Bournside School pupil Bartlett, whose family live in Hatherley, finished the swim in 30 minutes, 29 seconds and the scenic bike course in two hours, 33 minutes, moving into the lead.
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An impressive half marathon time of one hour, 36 minutes gave her an overall finish time of 4.43, including the transitions, in damp and windy conditions.
Bartlett used the event to gauge her progress after making the transition from rowing to long-distance triathlon.
She had completed two previous triathlons, the Little Woody in 2010 and Ironman UK in 2011 during her days as a lightweight rower on the World Class Start programme.
The 25-year-old has now decided to concentrate on triathlon after showing so much promise with little specific preparation for the event before she was struck down with a foot injury.
Endless rehabilitation and physiotherapy sessions along with several MRI scans has made the past year a particularly tough one for Bartlett.
She missed out on a chance to represent Great Britain in Hawaii and at the World Long Distance Championships Las Vegas, but she hopes her injury problems are now behind her.
"I cannot thank enough my family, friends and sponsors who have got me through the last year," Bartlett said.
"I have been on a rocky road and it's been tough mentally, but it's great to nearly be out of the other end of the tunnel.
"I'm looking forward to some consistent training and getting back to competing again because this is my dream, passion and everything I want."
Bartlett believes there is far more to come because she has only recently been able to step up her running training.
"My legs haven't quite got the mileage yet because my running has been predominately around the 40-minute mark in training," she said.
"That showed as I started to struggle a lot through the second and third lap of the run."
Bartlett had her bike supplied by Matrix Cycles, while Fetish supplied her riding kit.
She receives nutritional support from A1 Multisport, compression gear from Compressport and funding towards medical treatment from Siyona Tech.
Her next test is the Big Cow British Half Ironman Championships in Buckinghamshire on Sunday.