After spending 2 weeks in Europe at Duathlon Worlds and the European Sprint Cup in Italy, I had a short stop back in South Africa before setting off for Junior World Champs in Auckland, New Zealand.
It was two 10 hour flights via Singapore and we arrived at our Hotel in the Auckland CBD at 02:30 in the morning on the Tuesday. With Race only on Sunday, I had a few days to adjust to the new time zone and get in my last few days of training before what would be the biggest race of my career to date. our hotel was pretty convenient, being only a short 10min walk from the race venue but far away enough from the hype to be peaceful.
With the weather unpredictable and changing every half hour or so, we had to make the most of the sun and the dry roads while we could. It was predicted that our race day would be raining but when the weather was really good on the Saturday for the u23′s and the Elite women, I hoped it would hold out for race as well. this was not to be and it was raining really hard in the morning. Wian and I did our bike warm-up in the pouring rain in the morning and it looked like it was going to stop for our race at 4pm.
After checking in the athletes lounge and sorting out all the official stuff it was time to start warming up for the race. I did a good 10min or so swim in the cold water (14 degrees) just to get my body used to it for the race. We then had to line up and were called down to the pontoon and were all set to go.
The start was good and I got away cleanly until about 100m when I found myself in the middle of the pack and being hit and kick from seemed like every direction. I tried to just focus on swimming forward but really struggled with all the fighting going on. Going around the first buoy, I thought I perfectly positioned but ended up being caught in the fighting and by the time I got around the next buoy only 50m later, I found myself at the back on the swim and having to push hard to not get left behind.
I exited the swim pretty close to last and then had slow transition (struggled with my wetsuit) to make matters worse. I got onto the bike and pushed hard on the first lap to catch up to a few other athletes and then settled into a good pace with another athlete as we slowly moved up in position together. The bike course was hilly and technical. We had 4 laps and each lap had 3 steep hills in it that split up the groups and exposed the weaker cyclists. With the rain pouring down, it made the technical corners treacherous.
I got onto the run and ran at the fastest pace that I found comfortable, which turned out to be not fast at all! in the end I was 47th at my first World Champs, so I am happy with my race turned out after having a shocking swim. I feel if I had swum 20-30secs faster then it would have been a whole different race and I could have performed much better, as I really enjoyed the course, especially on the hard bike course.
A huge Congrats to Wian Sullwald, training partner and friend, who won Junior World Champs in a dominating performance!
A huge thanks must go the Jono Rumbelow for all the hard work that he put in throughout the week and especially on race day. As well as to Debbie Alexander, for also helping a great deal and all the support she gave throughout the week.
Hopefully will have some photos of the trip up soon!