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Arnhem, The Netherlands - Stellenbosch, South-Africa

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Dutch National Champion and Geraardsbergen

My last update has been a while ago, which doesn’t mean I have been lazy those last weeks! After a great period in South-Africa I hoped to wrap it up with a *bang*, but that didn’t work out like I wished. A few days before the start of Ironman Port Elizabeth I ended up in bed with a stomach fever. This sticked around until just 1 day for the race… Which meant that instead of carb loading I was carb dropping. I had some major doubt whether or not to start the race, but eventually I decided to just give it a try and see how it crinkles out.

knowing the season ahead was still long and had barely started made this disappointment bearable.

I started off feeling surprisingly well, until around 4 hours in the race. Then the battery turned red. Nevertheless, I finished the bike part and went on to the run for around 7 kilometers; this was where Romy was sitting, so there was no other way then to run there… I already decided I would stop before that. Of course this was super shit, but knowing the season ahead was still long and had barely started made this disappointment bearable.

Moving back into our house, seeing friends, family and sponsors. The agenda was full you can say.

Back in Holland after South-Africa is always a busy period. Moving back into our house, seeing friends, family and sponsors. The agenda was full you can say. As I didn’t finish Ironman P.E. I continued my training like I was and worked towards my first race in Geraardsbergen. A week before that there were the Dutch national championships HD in Nieuwkoop, although I originally didn’t plan to do this race I eventually decided to start. Also because I had to turn some bad experience there into a good one!

But Nieuwkoop was rough on my body. I could feel that I was tired of all the training, I already did in the days before the race. After 900 meters of swimming my arms already felt empty and I had to let go of the lead. After transition I soon got to the front of the race, but didn’t last long. I couldn’t find a rhythm, was breathing heavily and soon Sven Strijk and Milan Brons passed.

never got dropped on the bike in a race in the Netherlands…

The two of them flew by and I couldn’t follow. Not long after that Stef Overmars, Omar Broms and the Belgian Bart Vantorre passed. Fortunately, I could still keep up with them and stay on an appropriate distance (learned my lesson last year and don’t want to take any more risk;-)). The more we got into the race the better I started to feel. Mentally it was tough though. I never got dropped on the bike in a race in the Netherlands… I still kept my hopes up thinking something can always happen in the front and there was still a run ahead; and I knew my running was strong.

I was still feeling pretty shit, but after all this fighting to stay in the race and now leading I wasn’t going to let go of this title anymore.

Once we got to transition I found Milan in the penalty box and heard that Sven was 4,5 minutes ahead. I started the run strong and after 1 lap of 5k the gap between me and Sven decreased with 2 minutes. After 7,5k I managed to pass him. That’s what triathlon can be like, weird. I was still feeling pretty shit, but after all this fighting to stay in the race and now leading I wasn’t going to let go of this title anymore. Finally, I am the Dutch champion Half Distance 2018.

That I needed this little boost with a race the week before Challenge Geraardsbergen, was a good thought. The days after NIeuwkoop I felt the energy coming back and I got stronger with the days. Although the swim still asked for some attention (too far from the front), I felt good on the bike. I led almost the entire 45k. Pieter Heemeryck already flew off, I passed Dylan McNeice after 30k. I was riding in 2nd place at that point, but aware of Joe Skipper approaching from the back.

During the second bike part Joe passed and together with Dylan I tried to keep the gap as small as possible. We ended up going into transition with the three of us at the same time, as Joe had some issues on the Muur (what a great climb that was…). Once we were running I got into a nice pace and good flow. Although the course was rough, with some climbs, I felt continuously strong. Dylan was the only one able to follow and Skipper soon dropped. In the end the battle was between me and Dylan, I have to admit I underestimated him a bit knowing that he raced a full triathlon the week before. He surprised me and dropped me hard on those last few kilometers. In the end I finished 3rd, with which I am overly satisfied!

Challenge Geraardsbergen was really great, I enjoyed the entire day and after the race I would have wanted to bike up that ‘Muur’ again. Fun to see all the people on the sideline during the climb, the ‘kasseien’ and those super steep parts.

Thanks all for the nice comments on both races! The upcoming week I will train hard towards Challenge Roth.

Photos: Andre Kwakernaat, Romylouise.nl Photography, Martijn Keijsers.