Coming 4th in the ITU World Triathlon in Cape Town - it felt like a win!

Well this weekend really was a case of third time lucky. My third ever WTS Race (first ever Olympic Distance one) and I get to fly home with a fourth place in my bag – wait what??? I think I’ll have to watch the race on the TV once I get home to realise what that means, I actually got to not just race with most of the best in the world, but actually somehow managed to beat all but three of them!

I didn’t actually decide until after Abu Dhabi that I would make the trip down to South Africa, with exam season coming up at University and me having to be back in Oxford only two days after the race, I wasn’t sure whether it would be worth the effort and time. However, I knew that I didn’t show what I’m capable off in Abu Dhabi… and neither did I in Hamburg last year – and I just really wanted to show that I can do better than that! I can now say with 100% certainty that the trip has been 100% worth it! 

But now to the race: Friday was a beautiful day in Cape Town, with the sun out and the water not actually too bad (in my opinion… but it seemed like even some of the other German girls disagreed with me on that one), but when we woke up the mountains were hidden in clouds and fog and it was actually a bit chilly outside – and the water temperature had dropped to 9 degrees! When the rumours of “we’ll end up doing a Duathlon” started spreading, I actually got a bit annoyed: I didn’t fly all the way to South Africa to not even compete in a Triathlon – I’d rather swim in 9 degree cold water than not swim at all.

Luckily the water warmed up a bit and the swim was only shortened to 750m in the end and I was roaring to get on the start line!

I’m not going to lie; the water was cold… so it was just a case of swimming and getting to the end. I didn’t feel too great during the swim, but the reason for that might have just been the cold water. Into transition and after fighting with the wetsuit for a bit I was off on the bike and it didn’t take me too long to chase down the first chase pack –YES!

The bike certainly didn’t get boring, there was always something happening, never really a moment to relax and sit back – exactly how it should be! And after a few near-crashes in the pack, we made it into the second transition… well, I think everyone in my pack made it in there before me (I really need to work on my T2…). And off I went and ran straight to the front. I felt good, I felt comfortable, I loved it there so decided to stay there for a while. After two laps, the lead group was slowly thinning out a little until there were only 10 of us left – my heart skipped a beat, I might actually finish in the top 10 here! On the last lap, I felt my legs getting heavier and Vicky Holland picked up the pace… I didn’t have much more to give, but just tried to stick in there for as long as I could and then there was the finish line! (I might have managed to trip on the home straight, but luckily didn’t manage to fall over!)

I had come 4th!!! Wow! I had to lay down and close my eyes for a while – soak in the atmosphere, soak in the feeling… I had done it: proven to myself that I can do better than Abu Dhabi, proven to myself that last year was not just a dream, proven to myself that a WTS race is also nothing but a triathlon. Being congratulated by the current World triathlon series leader after the finish was also pretty cool… And having Rebecca coming 5th and Anne 8th and Laura 17th was just making the day even better! Rebecca and I were just sitting on the floor for a while like little kids at Christmas – nothing could wipe that constant smile off our faces!

The evening was then spent back in the Hotel with a few girls emptying a bottle of wine and talking until late – even red wine didn’t manage to get me to sleep quickly once I had gone to bed though. Quite a few of the top athletes might have decided to miss WTS Cape Town and some others might have had a bad day and I am fully aware of that, but I managed to pull off a very decent race, fought until the end and am just happy with how I raced, the fact that I came 4th is just the icing on the cake for me :)

And now it’s time to head back to Oxford – back to being a “normal” student for a bit, revising and training (and some more racing) in the next few weeks, before I have my last few exams for my Master of Mathematics in June. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the moment a little longer!

© Sophia Saller 2016. All rights reserved. Impressum