Best in the World: Central Texas woman qualifies for Ironman World Championship after completing her very first one
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas woman who just competed in her first Ironman 18 months ago is getting ready to compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, after qualifying as one of the best in the world.
It’s an accomplishment that is almost unheard of in the grueling sport, which requires years of training.
Wendy Sharp, 44, of Waco, arrived in Hawaii Monday night in preparation for the big race, in which she’ll compete with the fiercest Ironman competitors from around the world.
“Alot of people train for years and years to get to this point and don’t ever make it,” Wendy said. “I’m blessed to have been at the right race at the right times and my coaching and my preparation definitely got me there.”
Wendy completed a few marathons years ago but didn’t become interested in triathlons until watching her husband, Brandon, compete.
She entered her first Ironman, Ironman Texas, in the Woodlands in April 2022.
“Honestly when I did my first one it was because I saw my husband finish his first Ironman and when he crossed that finish line I was like ‘oh, I am going to do that.”
Wendy completed the grueling race which consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon, and figured that one race was it.
“I was definitely a one-and-done, check it off and move on and now here we are,” she said.
But she couldn’t shake the itch for more.
Wendy dove into the world of swimming, biking and running with the help of Coach Natasha Van Der Merwe with NVDM Coaching out of Austin.
Natasha was tracking Wendy along her route at Ironman Waco when Wendy says she got an update that shocked her.
“When I got out of the water my husband was holding up a number two and I didn’t know what that meant and at mile 60 on the bike, I passed my coach, and she held up a number two and she was like ‘you’re in second place.”
“I didn’t know if I’d even be in the top 100 in my age group.”
Wendy said the update gave her an adrenaline rush she’d carry with her through the grueling 13 hours and 30 minutes.
Wendy finished in second place, which qualified her for Kona.
“When I crossed the finish line, I knew I was going to Kona. You cross the finish line, and all the pain goes away.”
For the last year, the interior decorator has been training around the clock, going to Austin multiple days a week to join her team and coach.
In what’s been unconventional, Wendy has opted to do a lot of her training indoors in hopes of avoiding injury and being able to manage conditions.
“It’s truly become a part of my life,” Wendy said. “It’s training seven days a week probably three hours a day during the week on average and five to seven hours on Saturdays and Sundays so it now just seems like this is what I’m working for, and this is my next goal and I’m ready to kill it.”
Brandon surprised Wendy with a good luck sign in her front yard which read “Let’s Go Wendy! Ironman Kona.”
The couple left Waco Monday, bound for The Big Island.
Wendy joined other competitors Tuesday on a practice swim in the ocean. It was the first time Wendy had ever swum in the ocean to prepare for the race.
Regardless, she said, she’s ready.
“I am ready to be with the best of the best in the world training and racing and my coach Natasha with NVDM coaching has me as ready as I can be,” Wendy said. “I’ve trained literally every day for a year getting ready for this race so now it’s just mental preparation and taking care of my body the next few days.”
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