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The Kona Qualifiers

Posted: Sep 07 2015

Women's Triathlon Clothing Provider Coeur & our sponsored athletes

She was a frequent visitor to the top step of the podium and had a Kona slot locked up when an accident changed everything.  Now, after rehab and recovery she's ready to go back to take care of unfinished business.  Meet Coeur Ambassador and Kona Qualifier Noga Ruttenberg.

Coeur: First, we have to say congratulations on qualifying for Ironman Hawaii! You’re coming back from a serious accident. How does it feel to earn a Kona slot?

Noga: Thank you! I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to compete in Kona. I wasn't even sure I would be able to race Ironman again this year so I feel blessed, to say the least, to have earned back my qualifying slot. I owe so much to my coach, to Coeur and to my teammates for helping me stay positive and hopeful.

                                              Then and Now

Coeur: You’re close friends with Ironman Champion Amy Farrell who is also a Coeur athlete. Tell us about your friendship with Amy. Did the two of you find time to train together?

Noga: Amy is such an inspiration to me and so much fun to be around. She's so talented and hardworking yet so down-to-earth and humble. I was actually training with her when I fell so she saw everything I went through and has been amazing at helping me believe I could get back in the game. I'm still feel far behind where I was but she was with me at me first two races back and she helped me keep my chin up and enjoy the experiences. I cherish the opportunities I have to train with her because there is nothing more motivating than being among an exceptional athlete.

They'll race together again in Kona

Coeur: We’ve found that while endurance sports are generally thought of as solitary endeavors, in reality, there’s usually a support system built up around the athlete. Sometimes, it’s training partners, sometimes it is family. Who do you have in your corner helping you prepare for Kona?

Noga: I have so many people in my corner that I don't even know where to begin. My family is so supportive and understanding of my need and desire to try and regain my level of fitness. I know that the time commitment and sacrifice can be a burden on them, as well as the fear that something bad can happen again, so I am truly grateful for the love and support. Also, my teammates at High Performance Training have been an amazing group (Amy among them). I have watched them all make huge improvements over the last few seasons and their encouragement and friendship has meant so much. As far as preparing me for Kona, my coach is one of my best friends and has been by side for 6 years. It's not just that he helps me become stronger and faster, it's that he encourages and teaches me to dream bigger.

Coeur: Have you done anything special to prepare for the heat and humidity in Kona,

Noga: I'm notoriously cold so I almost welcome the heat of Kona.   When we ride indoors, coach doesn't allow us to use fans and I'm hoping to get in a few hot yoga classes to help my body prepare as well.

Coeur: You also raced IM 70.3 Worlds. What did you think of the venue and did you hold back any during that race since you had Kona coming up?

Noga: I just returned from Europe and I keep telling everyone that I think Austria might be the most beautiful place on earth. It was also, quite possibly, my worst race ever as far as how I felt and how I performed.   My accident happened riding downhill at White Face Mountain and there was an extremely steep and technical downhill at IM 70.3 Worlds. I was so terrified riding down that my hand is still sore from squeezing the brakes so hard. I don't think I intentionally held back, I just let myself go in to the race tired because I would rather focus on Kona. My teammates and I had so much fun and it was an experience that we will never forget so no regrets. The venue was breathtaking!

Coeur: Quite a few of us will be out cheering for you on the course in Kona, so we have to ask. Do you ever hear what people yell to you on the bike and the run or are you concentrating so much on your body that you don't notice? Also, if you do notice, what is the best thing for someone to say to you during the race?

Noga: Since having the honor of being on the Coeur Team and wearing the team kit, I get so many shouts outs of: "go Coeur" or "heart and courage!". It always brings a smile to my face and reminds me to push harder and continue to try and represent everything for which the brand stands. Perhaps I should concentrate on my body more during a race but there is nothing better than encouragement from spectators and other competitors so I try to take it all in. I love when I hear people say, "you're looking great" when I know that's not the case.

Coeur: We think that the finish of Ironman Hawaii is one of the most magical places in all of sport. What will you be thinking about this year as you make the turn onto Alii?

Noga: I cried just reading that question. If and when I make that turn (I don't feel like I can assume anything anymore), I will remember that it has taken me two years to even get there since I initially qualified in November of 2013. I think the struggles of the last year will rush through my mind and the debt of gratitude I feel for all those who have helped me get to Kona may overwhelm me. I owe it to so many people to finish strong.  

Coeur: Well, thank you so much for chatting with us! We’ll see you soon in Kona!

Noga: Thank you. I honestly can't wait!