Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Every teardrop is a waterfall : The Marathon MTB Worldchampionships Laissac 2016

I almost decided to pull out of the world championships after I raced my heart out to qualify and my body not recovering adequately afterwards. I was left feeling fatigued with a sacral iliac injury I was struggling to get rid off. It had extended into my gluteals with shooting pins and needles down my hamstrings. I had not been able to run pain free and therefore cancelled Xterra France, but World Champs was a tough one to decide. The only reason I would not start was out of fear of looking like a fool being so far of the pace of the top athletes. I knew I was more than capable of riding the course, I was just aware my body was in no shape to actually race it.

I was still undecided when I travelled to the airport with Michael. Our holiday was booked and paid for and since we hired a camper van we could easily change our plans and direction. It was when we were waiting to board that I received an email from my uncle Aede with the subject "Alger" which is my fathers name. Immediately my heart sank as this usually was bad news. I had not seen him since 1999 when I left everything behind in search of a happier future on the other side of the world, New Zealand. He would only be mentioned if there was news. He had been suicidal for a long time now with several failed attempts and may be this was the final call. But it was not the case, he was diagnosed with Korsakov disease, a condition which damages the brain cells most commonly due to chronic alcoholism. An immediate feeling of anger took over my thoughts. This was not the future I had in mind for my father. He was supposed to live till 110 like he always stated he would. He would be spending his days all alone when everyone close had abandoned him after finding out the truth about his life. About the hurt he had inflicted on my sister and me from a very young age. About the darkness around his narcissistic personality and the ruthlessness he would go about destroying any one who would get in the way of his ambitions. Including his own children. Instead of being punished for what he had done through loneliness and isolation he was now spared from this living the remainder of his life being cared for in a psychiatric hospital.
My older sister and I were inseparable
I have always refused to be defined by what happened to me in my past, no matter what, I would aim for the stars, following my dreams and living life to the fullest. I always felt that the darkness I had seen, turned me into a stronger person.  But sitting on the plane high in the sky letting the news of my dad find a place in my thoughts I also realised I had become exactly what I never wanted to, a victim of circumstances. I am not sure if the return to Europe after having been away for over 15 years confronted me with so many dark memories and the reconnection with family had opened many old wounds. I felt a certain sadness which I had tried to avoid all my life had creeped into my veins some how. There and then I decided I was going to race the world championships.

I was going to race it as a symbol for what my sister and I had achieved in our lives despite of our history. I was riding for him, my farther. As his brain cells were slowly disintegrating so was his personality and the man who he once was, was no longer in this world. In a strange way it made me feel free. 

Although nerves did take over leading into the race including that horrible feeling of not belonging, I kept holding on to the thought of racing it purely for me. With the strength I gained through life. And as we set off cheered on by many spectators on the side line the race became my journey. I embraced every corner, every drop, every hill, every technical obstacle (even a crash!) with positivity. Overcoming pain, struggles, anxiety and anger, km by km I conquered the course. I thought of my life, my sister, my future and this race suddenly did not matter to me anymore, it did not matter I could not keep up with the main pack, suddenly I felt good enough by just being me. Without having to prove myself amongst a bunch of elite athletes. I knew myself what I was capable of. I simply did not need it anymore, and although it had taken me a long time to get to this point I was finally able to let go. At every aid station I was greeted by Michaels smiling face and encouraging words. The crowd was amazing and every now and then I was overwhelmed by the buzzing realisation I was racing in a world championship in my Dutch National kit

Mission complete finishing in 48th place
The last 10km I struggled and I must admit there were some tears, my body was now pretty much done and on such an unforgiving course I was aching all over. But I was there, and I made it, I saw the finishing chute and Michael, the sound of my name through the speakers telling me 48th elite female. Although relatively speaking this did not mean much since I was so far behind the front pace, it still felt like an achievement. Little old me 48th in the world. Everything came to a halt and the sense of relief was immense. More tears.

I rode the world championships in the name of my father, leaving all the sadness he caused behind on the trails of Laissac. As the world championships course there still will be endless ups and downs to come in future but I will be a victim no more.

one of Michael and mine life time plans is climbing all 4000m peaks in Europe

I am looking forward to lots of adventures with Michael, a new job at the vetschool in Edinburgh and lots of new challenges without putting a huge amount of pressure on myself, it is time to have some fun! I feel like a whole new world awaits me as I am stepping into this new exciting chapter in my life!

 "You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have"


  1. Neinke .. I blubbered the whole way through that ... You're such an inspiration and it lights my heart to hear you so happy and looking forward to new adventures ... See you in Europe before too long xx

    1. aww Juzzy, can't wait to sit down with you with glass of wine and celebrate our raise through tough times :) I love your new music so make sure you bring your guitar with you, I want to hear it live!!! xx