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ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Rotterdam 2017

by Alexandra Parren

Rotterdam ITU World Triathlon Grand Final

At the ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS), the world’s most elite triathletes travel to iconic cities to compete in standard and sprint distance races for a chance to be crowned World Champion. For 2017, the WTS took place in Abu Dhabi, Gold Coast Australia, Yokohama Japan, Leeds UK, Hamburg Germany, Edmonton and Montreal Canada, Stockholm Sweden, with the final in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Jodie Stimpson is Britain's defending champion but was pipped to the post by New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt this year, while five-time ITU world champion Javier Gomez of Spain is the one to watch out of the men.

At the final in Rotterdam, Sundried triathlete ambassador Brooke Gillies finished 5th out of 53 girls in her age group (16-19) for the sprint distance and was the first British athlete to cross the line in a time of 1:12:19. She gives us a race report of this impressive race.

Before the race

On the morning of the race I woke up at 7:50am and had a small nutritional breakfast to fuel me for the long day ahead. In this race, the transitions are a 20-minute walk apart so I had to go to T2 to drop off my running shoes and then I hopped on my bike and cycled to T1 to drop off my bike. Once all this was done, I headed to the swim start and relaxed for an hour and a half until it was time for my wave.

My wave was due to start at 14:40, so I started to get my wetsuit on about 30 minutes prior; by the time I was ready it was time to line up in our wave.

5 minutes to go - We were told to head to the pontoon and get in our positions.

1 minute to go - We were told to get in the water and place one of our hands on the pontoon.

30 secs to go - My heart was pounding.

Then all off a sudden I hear ‘on your mark’ and a loud horn and I was off.

The Swim

I started on the right hand side of the pontoon and this meant that during the swim I had a clear visual of the buoy. Throughout the swim I was in the front pack and I was feeling comfortable and strong, and I knew I had to stay at the front in order to have a good chance of finishing in a good position.

I was 3rd out the water which made me feel really comfortable, but I remembered that there was an 800m run to T1. As I ran up the stairs onto the blue carpet I started to take my wetsuit off the top half of my body. The run felt like it went on forever, but finally I reached my bike, stomped my wetsuit off my feet as I put my helmet on, grabbed my wetsuit and threw it in the bag and grabbed my bike and went for the exit.

The Bike

Once on the bike I tried to pick up some speed so I could get my feet in my shoes. I was fourth out of T1 onto the bike with another British girl in front of me, so we worked together to catch the other two girls in front. It didn't take long until we caught them and then another girl in fifth place joined the pack and we travelled the full 20km together. There was a lot of technical turns and speed bumps so communication was a huge factor during the race. I was feeling surprisingly strong on the bike because in past events I started to feel tired, but I knew that I had to just push it and stay with the pack. I led the group into T2, but I was the third one out of transition to start the run.

Cycling Rotterdam Netherlands Bike Triathlon

The Run

The run was hard at the start and it took me a while to get into my rhythm, however, I felt good in the latter part of the 5km and I wanted to catch the girls in front of me. I was fourth for most of the run, but a girl behind me was just pushing so hard that she ran past me and didn't stop or slow down at all. I tried everything in my power to catch her but she managed to get about 400m in front of me. Once I turned the corner and saw the finish line I was so relieved, I knew all I had to do was push it for the last 200m, and I did and I finished 5th.

Final thoughts

I think I underestimated myself at the beginning of the race because I knew that most of the girls had raced at the Worlds before. But I didn't let that bother me, I just kept my head down and went for it and I think I surprised most people when I finished 5th overall.

I was really surprised about what just happened, coming 5th wasn't something I was expecting. But I worked extremely hard throughout the entire race to finish where I did. If only I had had a little left in the tank I could have gone for it a little harder on the run. After all it was my first big event.

Overall Times and Splits

Swim: 10:57

T1: 4:09

Bike: 35:49

T2: 1:32

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