WEYMOUTH’S Ironman champion Linda Ashmore “exceeded all expectations” by winning the women’s 70-74 age category at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Ashmore’s time of 13 hours, 42 minutes and 50 seconds was a full 45 minutes and two seconds faster than her nearest rival, American competitor Sally Crawford.

And the BustinSkin member, 71, also beat long-term rival Natalie Grabow by one hour, 23 minutes and 41 seconds, the American finishing third.

The Ironman is a super-triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike leg before participants run a gruelling marathon to finish the race.

Speaking to Echosport about her achievement, Ashmore admitted she had only taken up triathlon three years ago.

She said: “I exceeded all my expectations. I thought it was going to be a close call at the end, but I was miles ahead.

“I only took up triathlon three years ago with a view to doing Ironman. I did my first three years ago and came third.”

Ashmore has fought through struggles against breast cancer and osteoporosis to complete her sporting goals and felt her swimming had been compromised after receiving treatment for her cancer.

“My swimming suffered because of the therapy, but I said to my daughter I was going to do an Ironman.

“I trained all winter with a bunch of cyclists at Sandsfoot. They encouraged me to do the Dorchester marathon, and then I was just ready for it,” she said.

Commenting on the race itself, Ashmore had to contend with the heat of Hawaii and, after completing the swim over a minute quicker than Crawford, delivered a personal best bike leg before running the entire marathon for the first time.

She said: “A few days before it was overcast but on the day it was burning hot, it was like riding in a furnace with the heat off the asphalt, on your back and off the lava.

“But the legs were spinning and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was hoping for a 16-mile-an-hour average.

“On the way out I was up to 18 miles which was amazing. But we had crosswinds and headwinds so by the time I finished I was down to 16.4 – that took a big chunk off my bike time and my transitions were slick.

“But I got off the bike and my legs didn’t want to work. But I settled into a steady pace and I actually ran the whole thing.”

Ashmore also explained how much training she had undertaken to beat her personal best cycling time.

She said: “Anything up to eight hours a week on the bike. It’s quality, not quantity which is important. Lots of hill reps on Portland and Ridgeway.

“Then the recovery and then long endurance rides – 100 miles in the New Forest.”

And Ashmore is showing no signs of slowing down in the coming years.

She said: “My plan next year is to swim the English Channel. I was due to do it this year. I need to put weight on for that because I’m skinny and I get cold.

“I’ve got a place in the London Marathon and I’ll do the 70.3 (half Ironman) next year to do France (World Championships) in 2019. Then Ironman again in 2020 when I’m 75.”