Flora Duffy had an incredible year. She did what no one else expected by keeping Gwen Jorgensen from the ITU world title, and wrapped up two other world titles in the XTERRA World Championships and the ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship at the end of the season. TMC-contributor Marcia Jansen caught up with Flora just before she traveled back home to spend the Christmas holidays with her family in Bermuda.
“This season was a whirlwind and kind of ridiculous,” smiles Duffy when asked how she looks back at the past year. “It’s been a long season as well, with the ITU Cross Triathlon championships just a month ago. So I am looking forward to going to Bermuda, seeing my family and enjoying the sun and the beach. I will definitely do some training there as well. It’s getting pretty cold now in Boulder, where I live during the season, so I hope to get some good riding in over the holidays.”
Duffy landed her first podium spot (third) in a World Triathlon Series race in 2015 in Abu Dhabi, followed by a second place in Edmonton the same year. “After last season I realized that if I ever wanted to win, I had to use my strength in the swim and on the bike. I had to figure out how well I could run after a hard bike leg. In order to do that, I started to work with a new running coach, Ernie Gruhn, in Stellenbosch, South Africa, where I train in winter. It was not about running more or harder, but we were more focussed on mechanics on top of little things, that would make me run solid after a hard bike ride.”
All the hard work paid off for the first time in the WTS-race in Gold Coast, where Helen Jenkins, Andrea Hewitt, and Duffy took a 90 seconds lead in the bike leg. Jenkins managed to take the win and break Jorgensen’s winning streak. Duffy finished fourth. “That was a game-changing moment,” says Duffy who realized that very moment that Jorgensen – who’d dominated the series since 2014 – wasn’t invincible. “I knew if I worked hard from the beginning of the race, there was a chance of beating her. I like to race hard, but I have to be smart as well. I learned that the hard way in Leeds, where I biked too hard and it backfired on the run. It’s a learning process, you experience things, analyze what went wrong and take it with you in the next race.”