By Kerri Archer, 13th May 2017
Having battled with injury for well over 4 months, March 2016 would see me stand on the start line at Clumber Park duathlon. Following a little bit of encouragement from some friends who will remain nameless I had decided 2016 would be the year I would pitch myself against other age group athletes looking to qualify for Great Britain. In all honesty, for me, I just wanted to see how far off the mark I was. Duathlon has never really been my cup of tea (too much run, not enough swim!!) and it’s a little chilly in March!! However, I raced and I finished!! Results were out and having finished 6th in my age group no automatic qualifying spot for me. But all was not lost when a couple of months later a received an email saying I was in…I had actually qualified to represent Great Britain!! And so began the preparation. Thirteen months later with guidance from Pete Schofield (coach at York knavesmire harriers) to improve my run and several York Triathlon members and my good friend and time trial extraordinaire Kirsty Smith to push me on the bike I was stood at the start line at was to be one of the experiences of my life.
The atmosphere in Soria was quite something. Opening ceremony night I lined up with hundreds of GB age groupers as we paraded the streets, a glow of excitement and nerves building inside me with 36 hours to go.
Before I knew it race day had arrived. My routine is always to eat at least 2 and a half hours before I race so I was up at 6am. Getting something remotely healthy to eat for breakfast in Spain is somewhat of a challenge…it’s pastry or churros, so I improvised a bit. Took my bike to transition and there waiting for me was a little name card complete with age group and my country…I was actually doing this…racing for my country. Never did I ever think at the age of 36 I would have the opportunity to race for Great Britain. With transition set up it was back to the apartment, keeping hydrated and donning the all important tri suit. At this point I should mention my 2 fabulous sponsors Giant York and Bikebox online who have supported me immensely in my journey and who’s logos were proudly emblazoned on my suit.
Warm up complete and into the “holding pen” slowly moving closer to the start. At this point I felt quite relaxed…I knew what my game plan was (run bike run..simples!!) and to not allow myself to be carried away with it all. The run was a set of 10 straights with 180 turn around points up and down a park with a slight incline. Into transition and on the bike the real fun began!! Blustery strong winds made getting on my bars near on impossible as I was blown side to side whilst trying to push the speed where I could. The course was described as undulating but in all honesty it was hilly to me. A 10km out and back twice I really had to grit my teeth and stay. I say it all the time but I do love riding my Envie and it performed well in tough conditions. Back into transition and only 2.5km to go. Here I just had to get my head down and use every ounce of whatever was left in my legs. As I came round onto the blue carpet to finish I grabbed a GB flag and crossed the line. And there it was, my first taste of European racing. The competition was outstanding and the results were to reflect that. So whilst I didn’t make podium or truthfully nowhere near I had trained hard and got there which as so many people remind me is no mean feat.
So what next…post race I got to have a couple of days seeing the sights of Madrid followed by a family holiday is Lisbon. I did a few training runs and ran around after my two nieces for 3 days!! Time to head home today and back to the training schedule. In 2 weeks time I will race Southport and the Strathclyde the weekend after (both European qualifiers for Triathlon) before I head to Düsseldorf in 7 weeks to compete in the ETU sprint triathlon championships.