Shelly Hammons, who serves as federal programs coordinator for the Daviess County Public Schools district, is in South Africa preparing to compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
The race begins Sept. 1 for women and Sept. 2 for men in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa, and will involve swimming 1.9 km; bicycling 90.1 km; and running 21.3 km.
To prepare for this triathlon – and another longer event coming up in October – Hammons has been swimming, riding and running three days a week, with strength-training five days a week and daily physical therapy exercises.
As she prepares to compete, Hammons has set a personal goal for herself. “I would love to go sub-5 hours and maybe closer to 4:50, but with a very cold ocean swim, this may not be possible,” she said. “It will also depend on the wind that day. Thirty-plus miles into a headwind on the bike can really zap the legs for the run portion.”
Although it may seem strange to some people for an athlete to travel so far for a competition, Hammons said, “It’s the World Championship for the 70.3 distance; you go where it is.” The 2017 contest was in Chattanooga, Tenn., and the 2019 event will be in Nice, France. To qualify for participation or receive an invitation to compete in the World Championship, Hammons said an athlete must either qualify in another Ironman 70.3 race or have one of the fastest times in the world.
Hammons has been active and competing most of her life but has been competing in triathlons for only about three years. “During the Boston Marathon, I suffered a hip injury that required six months of recovery post surgery. After that surgery, I was told I would have to not just run because the hip wouldn’t hold up, so since 2015 I have been competing in triathlons,” she said. “My personal best in the marathon is 3:25. In the 70.3 distance race, my best time is 5:06 and on a shorter swim 70.3 4:58.”
With the exception of this trip to South Africa, Hammons’ husband and children have always traveled to competitions with her, which she said is one of the most important aspects of her commitment to participating in athletic events. “It’s very important for our kids to see that their mom trains hards and races hard but has fun in the process,” Hammons said. “My husband and I always say, ‘The only thing that really matters during any given race is to do your best with what the day gives you and have fun.’”
As the coordinator of federal programs, Hammons oversees Title I, Title II and Migrant education, and works with the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards for the DCPS district.