Sundried ambassador Laura Rose Smith gives us a race report of her recent performance at the ETU European Triathlon Club Championships.
I couldn’t believe it when I received a phone call 2 weeks before the ETU European Triathlon Club Championships asking if I would fill the 4th entry for the Birmingham Running Athletics and Triathlon club (BRAT). Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity and began my preparations for the race in Banyoles, Spain.
The BRAT team arrived in Spain on Friday morning and once the bikes were built we were on our way to recce the swim and get registered for the race. When we arrived at Banyoles lake I remembered the last time I was here with the Birmingham University Triathlon Team for a training camp back in 2016 and could not wait to get back in the lake for some open water swimming.
After the early start and busy day on Friday, Saturday morning was inevitably never going to be an early one, despite arranging to go for a pre-breakfast taper run at 7am (what a silly suggestion that was!). Eventually, when we decided to brave the daylight, we set out on our taper run along the scenic trail roads of Girona (a step up from my usual run views of student accommodation and busy roads). My Sundried Tour Noir Tank was perfect in the scorching Spanish conditions, keeping me cool with its mesh racer back and super breathable material. Back at base we demolished breakfast and headed down to Banyoles to attend the athlete briefing where it dawned on us just how high the calibre of athletes was…cue the nerves!
Well, what can I say about race day? It was one hell of an experience. It was my elite debut and I was soaking up the opportunity as much as I could. The blue carpet racking, athlete lounge, and dive start were all far from the age group set up I am used to.
I hadn’t anticipated the starting horn would go off quite so quickly and I literally fell into the water (it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have at least one disaster!) I held onto the back of the pack initially but as soon as a gap developed I was spat out the back and fighting clear water alone. As per usual, it was down to the bike to put in some hard graft (one day I will exit with a group!) Pushing hard alone is never easy but it payed off as I managed to cling onto a group for the final 2km leading me nicely into T2. I always love T2 because it's where I know I can pick up my trainers and do what I do best… run. On the run, I knew it was time to get my head down and push even harder, which enabled me to overtake 4 girls over 1.6km (I’ll take that!). The whole team had one gusty race and we finished in an impressive 17th place against teams that were comprised of Olympic athletes… now I really can say I have raced some of the best quality triathletes there are!
It was the best experience of my triathlon career and one I didn’t want to come to an end. The weekend of playing pro has given me a taste of what it’s like to compete as a high-level elite triathlete and I am more determined than ever to reach that level. Here’s to the next few years of hard grind and achieving my goals along with the great support from the Sundried team.