The Auckland WTS is known to be a tough course because of the hilly and technical bike course. The weather can also make the race hard as it can be windy, wet, and cold. Thankfully, our race was mostly dry and warm.
I started the race with an average swim. I was about 40 seconds down from the lead group of nine coming out of the water, but I was surrounded by strong cyclists. Lisa Norden helped to bridge our chase group up to the lead group on the third lap, forming a group of over twenty athletes. However, as the race continued, the demanding course took a toll on our group and it dwindled from about twenty athletes down to twelve.
I was happy to come into T2 with the leaders. However, the hilly bike course took a lot of energy and I was running on very tired legs (as was everyone else, as you can’t hide on the Auckland course. Everyone has to go up 3 hills per lap, 8 times).
I was ecstatic to cross the finish line in first. Auckland was a challenge—a big challenge—for me. It was a targeted race and a race I’ve fallen short in the past three years with second place in 2012, DNF in 2013, and twelfth in 2014. I couldn’t have been happier to come across the finish line first, but then I saw USA Teammate Katie Zaferes running in for second. It was another great day for team USA!
That night, the World Final cricket match (New Zealand vs Australia) was on TV. I went out with my coach Jamie, his mother Tubby, Patrick, and our friends AJ and Esti. I enjoyed learning more about cricket and celebrating with them.
Although I was only in New Zealand for four nights, I experienced a lot. Before the race, I took a sea plane ride with Patrick and Emma Snowsill. We took off from Auckland CBD and flew over islands, some of which I’ve visited via boat in the past. In 2012, Patrick and I went to Waiheke Island, which is known for wineries. This past September, when I was in New Zealand for an ASICS shoot, I went to Rangitoto Island and hiked to the top. When we flew over Rangitoto, it was incredible seeing the trail I hiked up and the volcano crater from the sea plane. The island looked so remote from above. It was hard to believe it only took a matter of minutes to get to via plane from the hustle and bustle of the city of Auckland.
After the race, Patrick, Aaron Royle, Javier Gomez, Jonathan Brownlee, Carlos Prieto Lopez, and I did the Auckland Skywalk at the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is an iconic landmark in Auckland. It is the tallest man-made building in the Southern Hemisphere sitting at 328 meters. The Skywalk was terrifying. We took an elevator up about 200m and went outside, where we walked on a narrow walkway around the Sky Tower. There is no railing, so it was hard to enjoy the bird’s-eye view in fear of falling over the edge. But, once I was able to get over my fear, I was able to enjoy the magnificent view. It was a once in a lifetime experience. As a professional athlete, I travel all over the world, but I don’t always get to experience the city. This trip was different and I was so thankful for the opportunities.
Thank you to my coach Jamie and husband Patrick for their help and patience. Thank you as well to my sponsors, especially ROKA and Mobile Warming for making sure I had all the gear I needed to stay warm incase the weather was bad in Auckland.
In two weeks I will be competing in the third WTS of the season in Gold Coast, Australia.