In the beginning of July I was emailed by TSA informing me of a tour they were doing in Europe with a few junior athletes. They wanted me to come along so I could “prove” myself and show that I would be fast enough to be given a spot for Worlds. (From a very bad performance at SA Champs in March (my coach and I both swore that I would never have a race like that again) I had been training hard for World Champs in September, where I was hoping to receive a slot to race u/23 elite). I was extremely excited as I knew that, based on previous races in the year, I had not performed well enough to be considered.
The plan was that I was to travel to Istanbul in Turkey and then Tiszaujvaros in Hungary but, unfortunately, with mix up in emails, I was unable to get a Schengen visa in time and could only race in Istanbul. For me that was all I needed. I was feeling extremely confident in my training and knew I had never trained as hard before and that I was sure to have a fairly good race.
We arrived in Istanbul on the 1st of August and had some time to settle in and get the body back to normal after being stuck in a plane for 10 hours. It was ridiculously hot, with temperatures reaching into the high 30 degrees. We had the opportunity to do some sightseeing before the race, which is always a bonus when travelling to different countries. We went to the Grand Bizarre, a massive market where you bargain for goodies and can get a taste of true Turkish lifestyle.
On the 3rd of August we had the usual race briefing and course familiarisation so we could see exactly what the course was like and if there were any areas to remember like holes in the road, currents in the ocean etc. The course was very fast, a flat ride of 6 laps up and down the freeway, a flat run along the promenade and a fairly decent swim with few currents and no waves. The only issue really seemed to be the hot weather. The course, especially the run, was not well shaded and left us out in the scorching Turkish sun. I made sure, as I generally do the day before a race, to hydrate a lot so that come race day my body is not struggling as much with the added stress of the heat.
My race was only at 12 which was great in that I knew I didn’t have to wake up ridiculously early and could have a decent breakfast. Our hotel was only 2km away from the race venue which was perfect because it meant that after breakfast I could ride to the venue as part of a bike warm up.
I made sure I arrived early so that I could support the SA juniors and make sure I was very well warmed up before the start. I got in a good run warm up and, after racking my bike, managed to do a swim warm up before we were called to the athlete’s area. I was feeling good but slightly nervous which I always say is a good sign!
We were called out one by one and I was number 10. Once all of us were on the pontoon there were only seconds before we were off… I had a good start and found myself towards the front in a comfortable pace.It was a two lap swim and after the first lap I saw I was comfortably in 5th place with 2 athletes quite a bit ahead of the small group of 4 that I was in. I felt really good the entire swim and knew I had a lot more in me which would be used in the bike and run.
I came out 5th into transition and onto the bike we went. We formed a group of 9 with some athletes behind on the swim catching up quickly. The 6 lap bike course meant we were able to have a visual on the 2 girls that were out in front. We caught them on the 3rd lap and all rode in a group of 11. I was so happy that I had managed to stay in the bunch and more so that I was very comfortable and cruisey the entire bike. I have learnt from previous races that if you can sit in the pack rather than riding out in front then it is the best thing to do as you will save energy and then have a better chance of a fast run.
I loved the cycle and felt really strong. I have been working really hard on my riding as it is always the discipline that lets me down in races, so feel as though I was in control of my race on the bike makes me extremely confident going into more international races and more confidence in what I am capable of!
I was out onto the run in 2nd place but was quickly caught by 2 other girls who were ranked first and second respectively in our race. The pace was very fast and I tried my best to run as hard and fast as I could. I was in 4th for lap one but slowly got caught by a Belgium girl. The last 3 laps I was juggling with positions 5th-8th as us girls went through our own motions of feeling good then feeling bad.
I managed to finish in 7th with 5th and 6th place only about 30 seconds ahead of me. The run was without a doubt the hardest discipline of the race. The heat was really bad with some girls passing out on the run.
I was really pleased with my race and knew I had made great progress since SA Champs thanks to my great Coach, Neil MacPherson. My race all came together on the day which is something everyone hopes for. It is onwards and upwards from here as I received an email from TSA informing me on my selection for World Champs u/23 elite on the 12th of September in London based on my good performance in IstanbulJ I have a month to tweak small bits in my training and hope for an even better performance in London. I am extremely excited for what’s to come…
A huge thanks to all who make this possible, my parents, Jeff, my coach Neil, and sponsors Mr Price Sport and Inov8. You guys are all amazing!