Brennan Morrey finishes third in duathon world championship
Ruth Brennan Morrey was on her last few miles of the Long Distance Duathlon World Championships earlier this month and the steps didn't come easily.
She was pretty much exhausted.
"It was a battle just to pick up my legs,'' she said. "I was doing everything in the world to keep a pace but I was struggling. Really struggling.
"My mind was going in many directions but I always kept one thought in mind, to never give up.''
Brennan Morrey pulled herself together enough to finish third, an amazing accomplishment for the 1994 Rochester Mayo graduate, who earned a scholarship to play soccer at the University of Wisconsin and after graduation made her way on the worldwide triathlon and duathlon stages.
How she finished third in the world is a remarkable story, and we'll begin when she fell off her bike and had to fix a flat tire.
The 2013 ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championship was held on Sept. 8 in Zofingen, Switzerland. A duathlon is a run, bike and run event and in this case consisted of a 10K run (6.2 miles), 150K bike (93.2 miles) followed by another run, this one a 30K (19 miles).
"I was told going in that this one was the most difficult duathlon in the world,'' Brennan Morrey said, "because of the course. Some people say it is even more challenging than an Ironman. The altitude and the elevation climbs are what got me.
"The bike course was very difficult and running down some of the hills really tears up your quadriceps.''
With less than 30 miles left on the bike, the 37-year-old Brennan Morrey had moved up to second place, about five minutes behind the leader, Eva Nystrom of Sweden. She was approaching a long descent and the road was wet and slippery. A car at the bottom inadvertently made its way onto the road, and there wasn't much for Brennan Morrey to do. She slammed on the brakes and tried to avoid the car, but couldn't.
"I went down on my left side,'' she said. "It hurt really bad but with all the adrenalin of the race I kept going.''
Not so much for the bike, however. The tire went out of the frame, she tried to kick it back and the end result was that it popped.
"I thought my race was over,'' she said.
But she kept working on the tire and one final shot of a C02 cartridge did the trick. She had lost close to five miles and 10 minutes on the leader and fell into ninth place.
"All I could think of at the time was to give it my best,'' she said. "I knew I still had the run ahead of me and that's my strength.''
She finished the bike and kept "picking off'' the runners one-by-one and finally found herself in fourth place with about four miles left. By then she was pretty well spent.
"I was determined to get on the podium (third place),'' she said, "but really, I didn't know how I was going to do it.''
There was one last steep hill before the finish and then the runners had to make one final lap around the track.
"Going up the hill, I apologized to my quadriceps in advance because I knew it wasn't going to be pretty,'' she said, "and when I got down to the track I gave it an all-out sprint. I caught the runner ahead of me with about 200 meters left, but I don't know how.
"I never felt so exhausted in my life.''
Brennan Morrey finished third in 7 hours, 27 minutes and 4 seconds.
"That race had it all, one test after another,'' she said.
The Morreys moved back to Rochester in June after spending a year in England where her husband Mark completed his shoulder/elbow fellowship in Oxford.
In that time, Brennan Morrey turned professional. She has a couple of more races this fall and then a number of them next year and has applied to get her full-fledged psychologist license.
The Morreys have three children, ages 3, 6 and 8.
"Yes,'' she said, "but a good kind of busy. I have no regrets, I plan to compete at this level for four or five more years. Right now I plan to embrace every moment of racing that I can.''