The loss of her father earlier this year hit Jodie Stimpson very hard, and she had not won a race in quite a while, and thus the Challenge Miami title found her well.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Jodie.
Jodie Stimpson: Thank you for chatting with me.
ST: First of course, you lost your dad earlier this year, and we know that has been hard for you.
Jodie: Yes, it is hard to put into words really how hard it is to do life without my dad here. He was so much more than my dad. He was everything to me and still is, and its heartbreaking he was taken way before he should have been. Whoever had the pleasure of meeting my dad will know he was the best.
ST: He might however be smiling down on you after that great performance in Miami.
Jodie: I hope so. He would have loved everything about the race He would have loved being there at the Speedway and it has been a long time since I broke the tape. So, I think he would have been looking down on me with cider in hand.
ST: Did you have a cider in his honor?
Jodie: [laughs] No, I didn’t. I don’t like alcohol, but mum had one for me.
ST: You mentioned the long break from last breaking a tape. I think it has been about 5 years since your last win.
Jodie: It had been yes, the last time I won was the Mooloolaba World Cup.
ST: What was the procedure for you to enter the US with the current COVID-19 situation?
Jodie: I had to get an exemption to leave the UK to race which I got through being an elite sportsperson. But then I also had to get granted entry to the US. Then a lot of negative COVID-19 tests. The first one was within 72 hours before flying, then one upon arrival in the US and then another one before race day. Challenge did an amazing job keeping us as safe as possible. We also had to quarantine before the race for 7 days.
ST: Was there any difference compared to the PTO Championships Daytona trip?
Jodie: The main difference to the trip was in Daytona I didn’t bring any support with me, as mum couldn’t come due to work. But this time I was lucky to have her support.
ST: When did you arrive in Miami and how did you spend the time leading up to the race?
Jodie: I arrived in Miami on the Friday before the race, so 7 days before the race as we had to quarantine 7 days before. But to be honest, it wasn’t that different to what I would normally do. We got times where we could go around the Miami speedway to cycle and run or use the treadmill in the hotel gym and Wahoo set up a turbo room for us to use, then we had allocated swim times. Between training sessions, I don’t usually do a lot anyway, so hotel Netflix time is fine with me.
ST: What expectations or goals did you have for this race?
Jodie: I didn’t have any expectations for the race. I was just hoping I would have a better race than Daytona with more consistent training under my belt and lessons learnt just from the Daytona race, there is a lot to learn in 70.3 and I only just started.
ST: A common thought was that the Miami course suited a short course athlete more so than the Daytona one. Would that be something you agree with?
Jodie: I would say yes, as the bike course had those few twists that broke up the rhythm of these powerhouse ladies and allowed me to use my bike handling to carry speed through the corners.
ST: You finished 15th at the PTO Champs and for perspective maybe you can first talk about that race.
Jodie: Daytona was a totally different race. It was all about how much power and speed you can hold in a tucked aero position, and mine was not much power or speed, and not much aerodynamic benefits. I can’t just jump on my TT bike and translate what I can do on my road bike. It is a totally different game.
ST: How much time did you have on your TT bike prior to Daytona, and were you able to stay in the aero position as long as you wanted to?
Jodie: Before Daytona I had around 5-6 weeks on the TT bike, but the Daytona course is so unforgiving with no let up, and I was quite uncomfortable in the saddle early on. But these women I am up against are just as unforgiving.
ST: Back to Miami, what did your morning look like, and how do you typically get ready for a race?
Jodie: My morning in Miami I did a little different than the norm just because of the later start. I got up and actually had to go for my COVID-19 test for my return flight home then up to my room and a small snack and a short turbo session with some short efforts and the around 10 am I had my normal pre-race meal rice and banana. Then I drove to the race to arrive about 11am.
ST: Rice and banana? That is all?
Jodie: It is a lot of rice.
ST: How did the swim go?
Jodie: I knew this was going to be a super fast swim with Lucy and Sara in the race, and to be honest they were gone right away. I tried to get on it with the girls but just didn’t have the get out speed and they were quickly gone then for most of the swim. I swam next to Fenella and I thought Paula would be on my feet but not sure who else if anyone was there. It was quite choppy in places but not as bad as it had been the day before in the pre-race swim.
ST: How comfortable where you with the bike course?
Jodie: The biggest challenge for me was the head and tail wind as these girls are power houses which I am trying to develop. I had fun with the corners of the course and tried to carry as much speed through this bit of the course as I could and use my bike skills the best I could.
ST: Tell us about your bike setup.
Jodie: It was my first race on the Cervelo P3X and I was just loving how well the bike handled around the course. So smooth and enabled me to carry speed through the corners. My wheels are CES 50 on the front and an Elite disc on the back. The legend Paul Wright (Velo Fixers) came to me the day before I left for Miami to get the bike race ready for me and make sure I was happy with everything. I've been seeing Paul since I started triathlon and I don’t know many other people who knows more about bikes. Legend.
ST: Did you know that Lucy Charles had gotten a penalty?
Jodie: Yes, I did as I could see the white board every lap. But it didn’t change anything I was doing.
ST: As you started the run, how did you feel?
Jodie: Pretty shocking for the first few k but then started to get my running legs back. It is a weird feeling compared to ITU racing, as you feel you are running hard, but I am really having to concentrate on my running form from running of a longer TT bike.
ST: Talk about your running pace.
Jodie: To be honest, I just ran to the race which was one of the good parts of the race. I'm a racer and it was amazing to be able to react to people at the start of the run, Paula, Lucy. You couldn’t really stick to a set pace on this course due to the massive head wind on the back of the course.
ST: What shoes were you running in?
Jodie: Nike AirZoom Alphafly next %.
ST: Does that mean no shoe sponsor, or that you have landed Nike as one?
Jodie: I'm so happy to say I’m on the SportsShoes Athletes in Residence program, which is supported by Nike.
ST: When did you take the lead?
Jodie: I think it was lap 4 when I overtook Sara.
ST: Once you dropped Lucy, were you wondering if someone else was coming from behind? Could you see what was going on?
Jodie: To be honest, I spent the whole run thinking the girls would come back at me at some point as I didn’t have any information on the course in terms of time splits.
ST: You were very emotional when you crossed the line. Can you talk about what was going through your head as you ran toward the finish?
Jodie: The emotion of just wishing my dad was there to see it and missing him hanging over the barrier overcame me There are not many big races my dad hasn’t been there for. It has been such a rollercoaster ride of ups and far too many downs in the past few years and I just wish dad was there in person to see some more highs.
ST: What is next?
Jodie: Honestly, I am not sure yet.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Jodie: Just how grateful I am of the triathlon family, community for supporting me in the worst thing I could go through in my life and continuing to give me strength.
Images 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 by Eric Wynn / Slowtwitch Media House
Image 2 courtesy World Triathlon Org