With fewer than 100 days until the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda takes place, Flora Duffy has returned to the island for a spot of training and to do some public relations work.
The world champion has been accompanied on her trip by several international journalists, and in between the bike rides, pool sessions and hill sprints, has been giving her guests an intimate look at the place were it all began.
Such is the condensed nature of her visit — she leaves tomorrow having arrived on Wednesday evening — that there is little room for family this time around. For Duffy, however, this is now her new normal, the life of a woman with eight world titles to her name.
“It’s my work,” said Duffy, who is staying at the Hamilton Princess Hotel and Beach Club. “Obviously there are a lot more obligations and travel [as a world champion], but I don’t find it too strange [not staying at home].”
As the main reason that Bermuda is back on the international triathlon circuit, and will be for the next three years, Duffy was always going to play an important role in promoting April’s race. Even so, she still takes great pride in being able to show off her island to several influential journalists from the triathlon world.
“It [the trip] has been really cool,” Duffy said. “I think so far they [the journalists] have really enjoyed it, seeing the uniqueness and the beauty. We did a beautiful run on the Railway Trail on North Shore, where we went over the bridge at Bailey’s Bay.
“You know, you’re running and it’s warm, beautiful, the water is crystal clear. One of them [Nicola Busca of 220 Triathlon magazine} was in London earlier this week freezing, and then here we are running on this beautiful island. It was great showing them the pool, the track, and it’s pretty special to be able to show people where I am from and this is what made me; it’s really nice.”
Aside from running down the Railway Trail, there have been Twizy tours, a trip to Art Mel’s for the obligatory fish sandwich, paddleboarding in the mangroves, and a couple of forays into Hamilton for dinner and drinks.
It hasn’t all been fun and games; this morning there is a long bike ride scheduled, with hill sprints to follow this afternoon. Still, on the upside for Duffy has been access to a swimming pool that was far quieter than she is used to.
“It wasn’t completely to myself but it pretty much was and it’s pretty nice,” she said. “Usually I’m in a pool with six or seven others in a lane and you know you bang arms, and it’s wavy, but I turn up there and I get a lane to myself, and it’s absolutely perfect. You don’t get cold, and it’s really a pleasure.”
Duffy leaves tomorrow evening and will begin her preseason training in earnest, ahead of the first World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi on March 3. The Commonwealth Games follow a month later, before she returns to Bermuda, where she will race in front of her home fans for the first time as a world champion.
“It’s going to be really special,” she said.