Waco woman sets new personal record at IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii

Published: Oct. 16, 2023 at 5:41 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas woman who just completed her first IRONMAN 18 months ago competed over the weekend in the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii where she set a personal record.

Wendy Sharp, 44, of Waco, was worried the challenging conditions of the IRONMAN course would slow her down but she crossed the finish line in 13:07, a time that beat her previous record she set in Waco last year by 19 minutes.

“I wanted to walk away from the world championship knowing I had given it my all with no regrets and, indeed, I emptied the tank,” Sharp said.

Sharp was able to accomplish just that, finishing almost in the middle of the pack of the best competitors in the world in Kona Saturday.

It’s not a dream the interior decorator has always had. Wendy ran a few marathons years ago, but she wasn’t inspired to compete in an IRONMAN competition until watching her husband, Brandon, complete one.

Her first IRONMAN was in April of 2022 and her time was so fast in IRONMAN Waco in October, she qualified for the world competition.

Wendy trained approximately 780 hours this past year, which included 1,000 miles of running, 1,200 miles of cycling and 400,000 yards of swimming all under the supervision of Coach Natasha Van Der Merwe with NVDM Coaching out of Austin.

Wendy opted to do most of her training indoors and was most anxious about the two-and-a-half-mile swim in the ocean. The first time she swam in the ocean for training was last week when she arrived in Kona.

Wendy finished the swim in 1 hour and 23 minutes.

“The swim was actually the easiest,” she said. “It was beautiful watching the fish swim around you, but it was long, really long. But, I feel like the day started when I got out of the water with my feet on the ground.”

Wendy then took off on a 112-mile bike ride, which she admits was grueling.

At one point, Wendy began to vomit on the ride and was worried she wouldn’t have the right nutrition left to finish.

Seven hours later, she made it and in good time with the help of a few exercises to keep her mind right.

“I sang ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ out loud for about 40 miles to keep my mind alert and remind me of bike skills to focus on,” Wendy said.

Wendy then laced up her shoes for a full-distance marathon mostly on a hot, dark and lonely highway. She said she decided ahead of time she would not let herself walk.

She had a strong pace finishing in 4 hours and 36 minutes.

“I had mantras and key words I had been focusing on all week to get me through the dark moments of the race,” Wendy said. “It’s not if those moments creep into your head during an IRONMAN, it’s when, so I was ready for them.”

Wendy crossed the finish line to the cheers of her husband, Brandon and her parents, Betsy and Steve Willis, of Waco.

Steve was the one who shared the impressive news of her fast time.

“Yay! I PR’ed!” Wendy smiled. “I’m glad it’s over. I feel sore and dirty.”

Wendy said she plans to take a bit of time to relax and enjoy the achievement before ramping back up for IRONMAN Texas in April.

“Mentally I need a break to relish in this victory,” Wendy said. I’m not retiring though. I love race day so much but I realy do all the training for the finish line. Somehow at that moment it makes it all worth it.”