Parkite qualifies for Ironman World Championships after winning competition in Estonia
When Liis Rametta traveled back to her hometown of Tallinn, Estonia, in July, it was about much more than just a trip home to see her family.
Rametta, a 36-year-old resident of Park City, was about to do something unprecedented: Compete in an Ironman endurance competition on Aug. 3.
“When I found out that Tallinn was going to be hosting an Ironman a few years ago, I knew I had to do it,” Rametta said. “It would be perfect to do it in my hometown with all my family and friends around watching. … I knew being home would give me the best opportunity to be successful in completing the race because I was familiar with the surroundings.”
Rametta did more than just complete the race, though. She finished first in the 35-39 age division, second overall in amateurs and seventh overall for all women competitors on the shore of the Baltic Sea.
“My first and most important goal was just to finish; cross that finish line in front of my family and friends,” Rametta said. “Winning definitely wasn’t a goal going into it because I was being realistic and had no idea what to expect. But I looked at the results from the previous year and knew it was a fast course because it was at sea level. I thought I would do it around 10 hours, 10:15 so that was great to see my finishing time.”
Rametta, who finished the competition with a time of 9 hours, 34 minutes and 50 seconds, completed the 2.42-mile swimming portion in 1:09:10. Sitting in eighth place in her division and 26th for women overall before the 112-mile bike ride, she went out and completed the second phase in 5:09:44, jumping to second in her division and 10th overall. Her 3:11:18 marathon to finish the competition jumped her to first in her division.
For Rametta, the Ironman was just as difficult mentally as it was physically. The final 12 miles of the bike portion and the last 5.8-mile lap of the marathon were some of the more brutal things she’s put her body through.
“I had no idea what to expect because I’ve never ridden a bike that far,” Rametta said. “There was a headwind for the last 12 miles so that was rough, and so I figured the run would be really hard as well. Then in that last lap, my feet and calves started cramping so it really became a mental thing to finish and keep myself going.”
Rather than watch her overall time, Rametta was primarily focused on her heart rate, knowing that if it got too high she would never finish. According to her, having her heart rate steady throughout the entire race was key to finishing so that was her main objective.
After graduating from Brigham Young University in 2006, where she was a heptathlete, she began competing in triathlons, Olympic triathlons and half marathons. Combined with weight lifting and living in Park City with its vibrant winter sport community, she had always had the bug to push her limits.
So when the Ironman competition was announced in Estonia’s capital, Rametta saw it as a way to motivate herself to get back into shape following the birth of her third child, daughter Miia.
After taking four months off following the birth, Rametta spent the next 10 months training for the competition, not wanting to disappoint in her hometown.
According to her, 20-30 people ranging from her family members to friends cheered her on at the event. Having so many supporters, particularly during the running portion, was vital to her success because she said that at every mile marker she would either see her husband Justin, her sister, her parents or her kids cheering her on and keeping her moving forward.
“My sister was definitely more nervous than I was because she had no idea how I would do and she couldn’t control any of it,” Rametta said. “My mom thought it was crazy that I was going to do it because she really likes to see me suffer. … While my dad was like , ‘This is the last time you’re doing something like this.’”
Although it may be her dad’s wishes to never so again, Rametta isn’t following through with that. Her first place finish in her division qualified her for a berth in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on Saturday, Oct. 12, something she feels she must do.
“The race in Kona is more of a reward race for me because it’s too soon after the race in Estonia to win,” Rametta said. “I won’t have time to properly recover from Estonia and then train to win so it’s more about seeing where I am with the best in the world. … Once you qualify for something like the world championships, I feel like you have to do it.”
Once the world championships are over, Rametta is looking to letting her body fully recover while spending some much needed quality time with her husband and three kids, Oskar, 7, Kaspar, 4, and Miia. At the same time, she does have her eyes set on another future goal and one closer to home: the 2021 Half Ironman World Championships in St. George.
“I definitely have some time to recover and train for that,” Rametta said.
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