ITU World Triathlon Stockholm - a Step in the Right Direction

It’s been a few weeks since Rio and it was finally time to race again. Summer has been pretty long already and a lot of time has passed since I finished exams but I only actually felt properly settled mentally again before Stockholm. Exams had actually taken a lot out of me and combined with a few poorer races just meant it took its time. I spent a few days after Rio at my boyfriend’s house in Yorkshire, which is stunning when the weather is nice! It also has plenty of beautiful hills that can destroy you when you go up too many.

I arrived in Stockholm on Thursday afternoon, to amazing weather. The swim course and bike course familiarisation made me realise just how much this wouldn’t be a “normal” race. There were actually quite a lot of waves on the swim course and the bike course was as hard and technical as everyone had always said it is. However, these things usually just make the race more interesting and harder – and I don’t mind a hard race.

The weather was still beautiful on Saturday, however the wind had picked up, which meant the water was even choppier. However, the swim did not go the way I had wanted at all. I probably didn’t swim off quick enough and made a wrong call about whose legs to follow. Swimming in such wavy water means that it is a lot harder to swim at the front or on the side of a pack, so any little gaps that will form during the swim will usually increase in size very quickly as the people behind the gap will have to fight the waves again as well. And that’s exactly what happened. I exited the water in the second bigger group 1min 50sec behind the leaders – nowhere near where I had wanted to be! However, once again there were a few strong swimmers in my pack that should have exited the water a lot further towards the front - and speaking to them after they had no idea what they had done wrong/happened during the swim either. So I think the problem was not so much my actual swimming, but more the lack of experience in open water races and in waves.

The bike was then a case of trying to reduce the gap to the main pack – with Nicola Spirig and a few other strong cyclists sitting in that pack after there was no way we were going to catch them. In the first lap three of the girls in our pack crashed which brought the whole pack almost to a stop – and made us loose some more time to the leaders. But luckily all of the girls who crashed were ok and none had done any serious damage to themselves.

With the bike course being very technical and us chasing there was no time to “relax” during the entire ride. Even just simple things like drinking and eating gels became quite challenging and in order to not come off your bike you had to stay focused for the entire race. But without any further crashes we made it to the run. I got off my bike and started running – and it did actually feel a lot better than in previous races! A lap and a bit later I then felt better again! Finally! After so many races where the run has just been a fight it finally felt good and enjoyable again. I managed to run myself into 20th place. Maybe not where I want to be, but after that swim that’s all I could get that day. It was also amazing to have my parents there watching and I spent Sunday sightseeing and watching the men’s race with them. Stockholm is a beautiful city that is well worth a visit (especially when the weather is as good as it was for us on the weekend).

Now I’m back in good old rainy UK and preparing for the WTS Grand Final in Chicago in four weeks, currently really enjoying training and happy to have a few days with my family. I have also decided to race the WTS race in Chicago rather than racing the U23 World Championships again. I feel that in order to improve I need to gain all the experience I can on the WTS stage and would like to secure a decent ranking in the World Triathlon Series this year, where I am currently ranked 19th having raced the minimum number of required races. So I’m sad to see my title go, but also excited to see who will manage to take it!

Pictures © Jo Kleindl and Sophia Saller 2015

© Sophia Saller 2016. All rights reserved. Impressum