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East St. Paul athlete wins amateur Ironman

Posted: May 24, 2016

Nicole Walker is headed to Hawaii later this year, but not to walk on a beach.

The 27-year-old East St. Paul resident qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on Oct. 8, after placing first overall in the amateur category of the North American Ironman Championship on May 14 in The Woodlands, Tex.
 
Qualifying for the World championship in her fourth attempt, ahead of 21 of 29 professional athletes competing stands as a remarkable achievement under any standard. She completed the 3.9 km swim, 152.9 km on a bike and a 42.2 km run in 8:41:02.
 
"Usually it's just one (Ironman) each year for me but I guess I'm doing two now,"  Walker said. "I was having the race of my life. That made it a lot more fun. I thought I would have a good shot at winning or finishing in the top three in my age group, and qualifying for Hawaii, but I didn’t consider that I could win the overall amateur title. I didn’t think that was realistic."
 
It was, and she doesn’t mind training for an additional race at all, especially now she gets to test herself against the very best in her sport on the toughest course on the planet.
 
"That was the big goal, so now I have to set a new one," Walker said. "All of the girls there will have had to win a race to get there, so it's a very high-end field,” Walker said. "It would be nice to know where I sit with those girls."
 
Walker (nee Mulder) comes by her competitive spirit honestly. A former gymnast and a national team competitive skier, she transitioned to even more demanding athletic pursuits. After competing in a triathlon or two she advanced to the toughest challenge that sport offers, the Ironman. Full-length Ironmans are 3.9 km swims, 180.25 km of cycling and a full marathon of 42.2 km.
 
"I enjoy competing and training," Walker said. "I’m not ever satisfied. At first for me it was about completing (the Ironman). That’s how most people get into it. I approached it as a challenge. Can I go that long, for that distance? I enjoy competing but I enjoy training just as much."
 
She also enjoys life in East St. Paul, where she lives with her husband, Jeremy Walker, not far from both of their parents.
 
"I like that I can ride my bike from home and get to Lockport or go to Bird’s Hill Park and not have to take my bike in a car and drive somewhere," Walker said.
 
Walker trains for the gruelling events by swimming with a group at Pan Am Pool, and by running and cycling around East St. Paul and Birds Hill Park during summer months. During the winter, she trains indoors.
 
"I have a coach (Patrick Peacock) who gives me a training program, and ride my trainer (bike) indoors until it gets to five or 10 degrees outside," Walker said. "I try to run outside one or twice a week outside during the winter but it often means running four or five times a week on a treadmill."
 
Aside from training, Walker is an instructor with Pilates Manitoba, and looks forward to reuniting with friends now that she’s between races.
 
"It's very all-consuming so I am looking forward to getting back into the yard and spending time with family and friends because I feel that social time gets eaten into when you are training that much," Walker said.

 

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