Lisa Maria Dornauer, a 31-year-old native of Finkenberg, Tyrol, represents the hardworking spirit of her homeland, Austria. A dedicated professional triathlete, her journey from the sidelines of an Ironman race to the finish line is a testament to the power of determination and the love of sports. In 2023, Lisa Maria achieved a significant milestone by getting state champion in middle-distance race at Ironman 70.3 Zell am See. We had the pleasure of talking to Lisa about her journey and how she transitioned from her 8-hour day job to becoming a full-time professional athlete.
NÆ | LU: Hi Lisa, it’s great to have you with us. Can you tell us how you first got involved in triathlon?
Lisa: Hi! Thank you for having me. I remember the first time I watched an Ironman race in Klagenfurt ten years ago. I was on the sidelines and I thought to myself, “I can do this too.” So I borrowed a bike, hired a coach and began training, often indoors during the winter. Six months later, in May 2012, I signed up for my first triathlon.
NÆ | LU: You had a significant milestone in 2023 with your middle-distance race at Ironman 70.3 Zell am See. Can you tell us about that experience?
Lisa Maria: Oh, absolutely! Getting state champion in the middle-distance race at Ironman 70.3 Zell am See was an incredible experience for me. The race was challenging, but I was determined to give it my all. The atmosphere and support from the crowd were electrifying, and I felt a surge of energy as I crossed the finish line. It was a moment of pure joy and accomplishment, knowing that all my hard work and dedication had paid off. Standing on that podium, with the cheers and applause surrounding me, was a dream come true. It was a defining moment in my triathlon journey, and it has motivated me to continue pushing myself and reaching for even greater heights.
NÆ | LU: And you’ve had quite the journey since then. Can you tell us about your transition from amateur to professional?
Lisa: Yes, it was quite a transition. I started seeing success in my age group fairly quickly, and by 2016 I had earned my professional license. But it was tough. I had to juggle my 8-hour job and training afterwards. I worked as a fitness trainer and triathlon coach, so the workload was quite intense. But last year, I finally managed to go full professional and could focus solely on my training.
NÆ | LU: What would you say has been your biggest achievement so far?
Lisa: The Ironman in Zell am See last year was my biggest achievement. It’s the race with the highest visibility and impact. Although I enjoy Middle Distance races, the Ironman is a different beast and to have succeeded in it gives me a lot of pride.
NÆ | LU: Can you tell us a bit about your most recent race?
Lisa: My last Ironman was in Italy, and I was proud because I wasn’t as tired as before. My recovery time is getting shorter and shorter, which is a great improvement. In fact, after my last triathlon, I was able to live a somewhat normal life – I even went out for ice cream with my mum instead of having to endure the pain as in the years before.
NÆ | LU: If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Lisa: I’d probably tell my younger self to start swim training earlier. But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am very grateful for having the chance to do what I love in this life.
NÆ | LU: That’s inspiring, Lisa. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Lisa: Thank you for having me!