Fenella Langridge: Background, career highlights, quotes – 220 Triathlon

For the past five years, British pro Fenella Langridge has been building a fine collection of 70.3 and full Ironman medals. Here’s how she’s done it…
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By Nige Tassell
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A late starter to triathlon, Fenella Langridge’s subsequent move to half-Iron and beyond is what kick-started a medal-heavy career.
You won’t find a string of junior titles on the sporting CV of Fenella Langridge. The Brit was a latecomer to triathlon, only starting out in the sport in her final year of university, having previously competed in biathlon and cross-country running.
Indeed, she didn’t own her own bike until her dad bought her one at the age of 18.
Langridge has certainly made up for lost time, even if she didn’t make too much of an impression on the scene at first.
A bronze medal in the national championships, and a fifth place in a European Cup race in the Netherlands, were the most she had to show for several years racing at Olympic distance. Something needed to change.
For the 2018 season, at the age of 25, Langridge chose to go long.
Her impact was instant. In her first Ironman 70.3 outing, she took bronze in Pays d’Aix; a week later, in Barcelona, silver was her reward. In just two races, Langridge had turned her career around, catapulting it into a different hemisphere.
Her first 70.3 victory followed the next season in Edinburgh, either side of which came bronzes in Staffordshire and Weymouth.
In 2019, despite being battered and bruised from a bike crash the week earlier, Langridge cruised to the most comfortable of victories at Ironman 70.3 in Barcelona.
Her post-pandemic career has taken her elsewhere too – namely into full-Iron territory. Again, Langridge’s impact was almost immediate, taking silver in her first Ironman adventure at Couer d’Alene.
She’s subsequently taken both bronze and silver at Challenge Roth, along with posting a very creditable eighth at the 2021 Ironman World Champs in St George, Utah and a fantastic sixth at the 2022 Ironman Worlds in Kona, Hawaii, on her first trip to the Big Island.
Fenella Langridge was born on March 5, 1992, making her 30 years of age.
Having come fifth in the national sprint championships the previous month in Liverpool, Langridge takes bronze in the Olympic-distance event behind the experienced pair of Helen Jenkins and Emma Pallant-Brown.
Langridge records her only other top-five placing in Olympic-distance racing with a fifth place in the ETU European Cup race in the Dutch city of Weert. At the end of this season, she makes the decision to move on up distance-wise
In her first-ever half-Iron race, Langridge achieves arguably the best finish of her career to date when she comes third at Ironman Pays d’Aix, beating her experienced compatriot Lucy Gossage into the bargain. A week later, Langridge shows this wasn’t beginner’s luck, earning a silver at Ironman 70.3 Barcelona.
After scoring bronze at Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire, Langridge takes her maiden half-Iron victory with an assured performance at Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh. Another bronze, this time in Weymouth in September, caps an excellent rookie season at middle distance.
Having had to pull out of Ironman 70.3 Pays d’Aix after a bike crash that left her requiring stitches, a week later Langridge storms to 70.3 victory in Barcelona, finishing ahead of the field by six and a half minutes.
After a second place at Challenge Geraardsbergen, Langridge travels north to Denmark where she takes another silver, finishing behind her compatriot Holly Lawrence at Ironman 70.3 Elsinore but recording the day’s best run split.
After the pandemic disrupts the race calendar, Langridge returns to competition in France, taking third place at Ironman 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne. Another bronze comes her way at the Outlaw Half in Nottinghamshire.
At the PTO Championships at Challenge Daytona in Florida, Langridge scores an impressive seventh-place finish in an absolutely A-class field; the mighty Nicola Spirig is among her scalps. Langridge indulges in a dance at the finish line, as well as pocketing a cool $23,000.
In her first Ironman, Langridge again shows what a natural she is over distance, taking silver at Coeur d’Alene and slipping under the nine-hour mark by just 11 seconds.
Making her bow at the iconic Challenge Roth race, Langridge finds herself in the podium ahead of many more experienced athletes. Only Germany’s Anne Haug and fellow Brit Laura Siddall go quicker.
After winning the half-distance Challenge Salou in April and posting a creditable eighth at the delayed 2021 Ironman Worlds in St George in Utah, Langridge returns to Bavaria for her second assault on Challenge Roth, this time emerging with silver. Haug takes gold again.
Puts in a phenomenal debut performance on the Big Island, even leading on the bike for a while, before falling back slightly on the run to claim sixth at the line.
On her love for running: “My early running days began when competing with my swimming club in junior biathlons and then cross-country. Running is my escapism, giving me total freedom. The road is never long enough.”
On her eighth-place finish at the delayed 2021 Ironman world champs in St George: “I leave disappointed in myself and angry. I only have myself to blame. If you’re going to make mistakes, you can’t afford to make them at a race at this level. The other girls are just TOO good.”
On finding it difficult to relax: “It has taken a lot just to sit down and do nothing. If you need that mental release, then going for a walk is fine, but if you need to recover for the next session, get your arse on that sofa and sit down.”
On her debut Kona performance in 2022: “I now know next year I can go 10mins quicker simply by being run fit… that’s exciting!!!”
Podiums are calling in 2023 and Fenella will answer them.
Top image credit: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images for Ironman
Freelance sportswriter
Nige has written about a variety of sports for numerous titles, among them The Guardian, GQ, Esquire, the Sunday Times, Rouleur and ProCycling.
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