Kelda's Triathlon Update
27 Aug 2021
by Cathy Block

Kelda Wood made history when she rowed the Atlantic solo 2 years ago. Now she's set herself a new challenge of completing her third triathlon, despite a serious leg injury.

You might remember we caught up with Kelda earlier this year (read our article here) before she took on her first ever triathlon – despite not being able to run, swim well or ride a standard bike due to a serious leg injury she sustained in 2002.

Since then she has taken on not one, but two triathlons (and not easy ones at that!) with a third coming up in a couple of weeks time.

She isn’t shy of challenges, having previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Aconcagua - the highest mountain in South America, and in 2019 she became the first adaptive female to row solo across the Atlantic to raise awareness and funds for her charity, Climbing Out.

Her triathlon training hasn’t been easy. Amongst Covid restrictions closing her local pool, a packed schedule with her charity and poor weather to train in, she also received a shocking diagnosis at the start of 2021 – breast cancer.

Training was paused whilst Kelda had a mastectomy, and thankfully a few weeks later she received the great news that she had the all-clear.

We caught up with Kelda to find out how the triathlons have been, whether they were harder than she expected and how she feels since crossing the finish line.

“Due to scheduling problems, my first triathlon ended up being here in Shropshire at Alderford Lake on June 19.

I had always planned to do the running section in a racing wheelchair because of my leg injury, but training with it didn’t go very smoothly! I realised tackling the hills in it was near impossible and I was really worried I wasn’t going to be able to do the triathlons.

As I was struggling up a hill in the chair, I had a thought – I could walk faster than this… And there was the light bulb moment! I can’t run, but I can do a kind of shuffle. So, with now 6 days until the triathlon, I had a go running with walking poles and it worked!

I keep saying that this challenge is all about finding solutions to problems to achieve awesome things – and adapting with the poles was part of that.

The first triathlon was an Olympic distance - 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run.

It’s all about mindset, and I found myself using tools from my Atlantic row. I said to myself - JUST KEEP GOING. Every footstep, every lap, you’re one step closer. And I did it! It was an amazing feeling to cross the finish line of my first ever triathlon – something I had always thought wasn’t possible.”

Kelda’s second triathlon was The Snowman Triathlon in North Wales. It is well known as the toughest multi-terrain triathlon in the UK! She took on a 750m swim, 31km bike ride, and a 6km run up Moel Siabod.

“My ankle is fused at 90 degrees so the uphill for me wasn’t as bad as you might think – the downhill not so much! I couldn’t believe I actually overtook a few people running up the mountain, but they all passed me again on the way back down! It was an epic course with absolutely stunning scenery.”

Kelda plans to do one more triathlon this year. She’s taking on the Shropshire Triathlon in Ellesmere on September 5. She will be doing the Olympic distance.

“I’ve spent nearly 20 years telling myself I can’t run. I might not be quick or have a great style, but you know what - I can run. Knowing that has given me a lot of confidence. What else can I do!?

Following my breast cancer scare this year, these triathlons enabled me to move forward from that and not be defined by it. I’ve built my confidence and self-worth by setting myself this challenge. I even feel fitter now than when I was on the GB squad, which is a huge boost.

If anyone is thinking about taking part in a triathlon, I say, just do it!”

Follow Kelda and her charity Climbing Out here:

Twitter: @ClimbingOut_

Instagram: @ClimbingOutCharity and @kelda_wood
Linked In: Climbing Out