Let me introduce myself, I am Elien Janssen, a 31-year old Belgian amateur triathlete. I combine my triathlon career with a full time job. This is my story; why and how I raced multiple Ironman triathlons as a vegan athlete.
In the summer of 2013 I was looking for a new challenge in life. I’ve always been an active person, with a history in Track and Field, and ran a modest marathon in 2010. But after that I took a break for 3 years. That was long enough for me to need something really big to get myself motivated again. Triathlon had always inspired me because of its heroic nature. And so it seemed to me that was the challenge I needed.
In august of 2013 I registered for the Ironman of Kalmar in Sweden. From that moment on I had one year to prepare for a battle of swimming 3.8km followed by 180km of biking and finishing with a full marathon.
I already knew what it felt like to run a marathon. Swimming and biking, on the other hand, where complete new sports to me. It turned out to be a year of discovery, mostly of discovering the boundaries of my mental and physical abilities. Fell down and got back up, multiple times. And kept that going a year long. Searching for that so important balance between work, life and sports.
And I pushed trough. On August 16th 2014 I raced my first full distance Ironman, and it was an unexpected succes. Not only did I finish in 10h39min, I won my age group and thus qualified for the iconic world championships in Kona, Hawaii. But repeating this immensely challenging task in only two months time, would’ve been too much. And so I passed on my golden ticked.
Doing so I created for myself the most challenging dream of qualifying again. This was the start of a hunt that took me 4 years, or 6 Ironman triathlons.
I truthfully told the story of my journey on Instagram and gained a big following. And in October of 2018 I was able to show them the realization of my big dream: racing the world championships in Kona, Hawaii.
During 2019 I put my triathlon life on pause and went for a run, a yearlong run, discovered the fun of trail-running. Ran some (short) ultra trails. Had more fun than I ever had. But by the summer of 2019 there was this yearning for a big competition, for a big finish line. There is no finish line like the one in Kona.
My goals for 2020 were set, after a year of only thinking about mental and physical health, I wanted to push myself again, and go for a strong finish time. But then 2020 got cancelled. It was a tough year that I shared with my still growing audience on Instagram. As that audience was built on the basis of mental and physical health, my vegan lifestyle, our connection got stronger than ever. 2021, a new hope.