November 30, 2012, by Fraser
Swimming, cycling and running for glory
The University of Nottingham’s Dr Anna Bertram competed at the Triathlon World Championships in Auckland on 22 October; she was part of the Great Britain Age Group Team having qualified at the British Championships in June.
I got into triathlon about 4 years ago when a cycling friend suggested entering the London Triathlon, I entered the race in the November and at the time could only swim half a length of front crawl, I had coaching and by the following spring I could easily swim 1500m. The next hurdle I had to overcome was open water swimming, I joined Leicester Triathlon club and started going to the local lake to practice swimming in the ‘open water.’ This wasn’t quite so easy as I thought, swimming in a murky, cold lake was a whole different ball game and I regularly had panic attacks, mainly brought on by the cold restricting my breathing. I persevered with open water swimming and after a year I actually started enjoying it more than pool swimming! The panic attacks become a rarer occurrence but still happened from time to time.
I’d been a keen cyclist for some years so this was the discipline I was most competitive in and I did just enough running training to be able to complete the run. After three seasons in triathlon last autumn I started running at Loughborough University Athletics Track with Charnwood Athletics Club and consequently have seen a major improvement in my running. It was this improvement coupled with my strong cycling background which made qualifying for an international competition a possibility. I entered the qualifying races for the European and World Championships Age Group events and to my delight qualified for both the Sprint and Olympic distances at the World Championships in Auckland and the Sprint distance for the European Championships in Turkey in June 2013.
A truly international field
I travelled to Auckland in October and competed in the International Triathlon Union World Championships (I chose the Olympic distance over the Sprint). It was a truly international field, with athletes competing from New Zealand, USA, Australia, Great Britain, Mexico, Ireland, Brazil and South Africa. There were also plenty of athletes from up and coming triathlon nations like the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, The US Virgin Islands, Tahiti, Norfolk Island, Barbados, Norway, the Philippines, Estonia and Hong Kong.
The race consisted of a gruelling 1500m swim in Auckland’s Queens Wharf followed by a hilly 40 km cycle through Auckland and along the surrounding coastline and culminated with a 10km run around the city’s harbours.
Caught in a rip tide
Unfortunately the swim was the worst I’ve ever done, after getting caught in a riptide I had a major panic attack; I nearly pulled out of the race but somehow managed to carry on. Consequently the swim took 20 minutes longer than my average 1500m time so I emerged from the water almost at the back of the field, but once out of the water the race improved. I came 60/95 on the bike and 40/95 on the run which placed me 87/95 overall. Despite the disappointment of the swim I was extremely pleased to have competed in a World Championships in just my 4th year in the sport.
It was an absolutely amazing experience to represent Great Britain in and international event and one which I think will always be in my top 5 lifetime achievements. I’m now turning my attention to preparations for the European Championships in Alanya, Turkey next June.
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