Top 20 in an International Elite Field
Natalie Milne, Team GB Triathlete, was recently selected to represent Great Britain in the World University Championships held at Nyon, on the shores of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. This was a genuinely international elite field racing over a Standard (rather than Sprint) distance. According to Natalie, the race was held in fairly brutal conditions. 56 girls started and 50 finished with Natalie finishing 20th. A fabulous achievement in her first standard race of the season.
Here’s Natalie’s take on the experience and the race.
Being an international meeting, there was plenty of formal stuff to do but it was really good to spend time with other athletes from other countries. On Friday, we had the opening ceremony which included the athletes “parade of nations “and several speeches. Saturday, we started to get down to the serious business of preparation. The day was filled with course recce’s; first we had the bike course recce and then the swim and the run.
Helpfully, all the athletes and delegates were staying in the same hotel on the outskirts of Nyon. This made for a really great atmosphere. A 0915 race start though meant an early rise. However, after the usual pre race warm up though, I was feeling ready to go.
Having the chance to swim in Lake Geneva was pretty cool, literally as well as metaphorically! The challenge was that there was a bit of a chop which meant that it was rather wavy. My coach told me at one point he could see me up on a wave and could then see another girl down below me. The swim consisted of 3 laps. I got a good start and exited the water on the first lap in 2nd place despite having being beached on a rock. This happened as there was a strong current pushing left to right and when I got to the exit point, I was a bit too far over to the right and ended up on the rocks. I learnt my lesson though and made it safely round laps 2 and 3.
The run to transition was up a steep hill which made the run to transition a little bit tougher. This longer run to transition meant I just missed first pack on the bike but a group of 4 of us formed the next bike pack. As with the swim course, the bike course was tough with a steep climb for around 300m. Fortunately my Trek Emonda SL8 is built for climbing and was perfect for the course. In the pack, I was motivating the other girls to try and catch the front pack but we had different strengths in the group so were eventually caught by the pack behind. However, this then meant that I, and the other GB girls, started to drive the now bigger group to chase the leading pack. It worked and we eventually caught them on the last lap of 4 on the bike course.
The slight downside of having caught the leading bike group meant that it was a big group of us that headed into transition at the end of the bike leg. Out onto the run though, I settled into my own pace and finished the 10km run with a sprint finish for the first time in my triathlon career.
A great experience (and a good result!)
It was a real honour to represent Great Britain at the World University Championships in Nyon. A standard race against an international elite field on a tough course was always going be a real test. However, I stuck to my race plan and was really pleased with a strong finish to come in 20th. This sets me up well for the rest of the season. Now it’s off to Liverpool for the British Sprint Championships!