Karin and I signed up for this race barely knowing each other yet there was an immediate unspoken trust. A 4km kayak, 28km mountain bike, 7km trail run, 18km mountain bike and 5km run/bike over very hilly terrain was waiting for us. On paper we weren't a great match for this race. Karin had been concentrating on qualifying for the trail running world championships having done minimal bike training. I had been concentrating solely on the bike after having only just returned to training still recovering from a back injury. On top of that Karin had 55km’s of trail running in her legs from the week before where she qualified for the trail running world championships finishing 2nd Dutch female and 8th female overall. That she felt a little tired was an understatement. Neither of us had been in a kayak for over 2 years. It was a recipe for disaster, yet we managed to climb on that last podium spot.
|Karin not only winning the extreme Evergreen triathlon in 2016 but also the first woman to complete the course|
The whole weekend ended up being magic. It started on Saturday when we supported Kim Mulder in her battle to qualify for the trail running world championships 3 months after she had survived kidney failure during a race spending a month in hospital. We caught her at a negative stage wanting to DNF but with a little encouragement she changed her attitude and turned it around with an impressive 3rd female overall making up over 2minutes on the second girl in the last 6km's finishing only a minute behind her. “I told myself to get over it” she laughed . A ticket to the world champs for Kim when she could barely stand upright 3 months prior to this event.
|Kim already a proven champion|
Kim had already a proven track record, she just had to trust herself that she could do it again albeit on a not so ideal race prep. Not much different from Karin and I leading into the Grand Raid, although we both had a lot of rest during the winter months and minimal training leading into the event. We both had done the mileage over the years even if it had been a while “You have to trust you have the endurance from all the years you have already trained” said my coach Rab to me when he explained he was not going to bombard me with a lot of volume in my training program. Quality not Quantity.
|Karin not as well prepared as she usually would be|
“Even if I have to cut the mountain bike leg short, I don’t care” said Karin the day before the race. "it does not matter if we do not finish, we can still do the run and the 2nd part of the mountain bike leg and have a great day of training." "I am technically really bad on the mountain bike and don’t want to jeopardise my trail running world championships by breaking something ” she continued. I realised that this race came at a very bad timing for her but that she was doing it for me, and equally I had jumped on the plane to Brussels purely not to disappoint her as I was not sure how good this race would be for my back. “Let’s just finish it regardless” I said “ it really does not matter if we come last, we don't have to be fast, just for the fun of it” And a pact was made.
Post race smilesGenerally Karin would leave nothing left to the unknown going into an event, which made her so successful having won some big races already. When I arrived at Brussels airport and she was awaiting me at the airport in Antwerp it was quite clear this was not an A-race for her!!!
|Karin having great bike skills from years on the road bike|
Her bike handling skills were second to none, all she needed was a bit of confidence to ride downhill with purpose. I tried to pick up the pace a little on the descends to push Karin on a bit but at the same time tried not to physically or mentally break her. As the race went on she became faster and faster riding like a true mountain biker and we had a blast. It was no surprise the girl could climb like a goat and we were making up a lot of ground the further we got in the race. Suddenly we could see a female team in front of us “let’s try and catch them” Karin said. What happened with "we are racing pure for fun??!! "
|Whilst Karin strength was running, mine was the mountain bike and we managed to support each other on our weaker legs|
As we rolled in transition onto the run we found out we were the 3rd women's team “oh no” I thought to myself, “now we are really racing!!” but Karin stayed cool "just keep doing what we are doing" she said and being the better runner she dropped slightly behind me so I could set the pace. I could not have had a more supportive team mate and there was no negative moment in the whole 5 hours of racing. It had been months since I had been able to push myself running and it was such an awesome feeling. We kept racing smart and in the final stages of the second mountain bike leg we passed the 2nd women's team with a flat tyre; which meant we were now in second place!! All I could think was not to crash, not to go crazy, ride in control to not puncture or break a chain. The last leg was a mixed mountainbike/run leg where one had to ride and the other run. Since I was not really allowed to run I stayed on the bike whilst Karin run her little heart out to keep us in 2nd place. What a feeling!! We could not quite believe we finished as 2nd women team in our wave!! There was a short but anxious wait to find out if we could hold our podium position with more women teams finishing in the 2nd wave. We were absolutely over the moon when it was confirmed we managed to place 3rd women’s team! What a day!!
|All smiles all weekend|
"Hold the vision, trust the process"