After her success in the European Aquathlon championships Andover athlete Natalie Thomas had three more weekends of racing starting with the Blenheim Triathlon, her first Elite Triathlon race so she was up against some of the best in the country including a South African Olympian.
Natalie's first experience of elite triathlon went very well with a 750m swim bringing her out in the top half of the field before a long and hard 400m uphill run into transition where she was quickly out and onto the bike. Being an elite she was able to ride closely with other cyclists but unfortunately was unable to get into a group at the start so rode a lap and a half of the three lap 20km course alone before being joined by a group of four others. At transition from bike to run she overtook everyone in her bike group and increased the gap over the two lap 5.4km run course to cross in 31st place and in the top two thirds of the field. A huge achievement considering she only took up triathlon 18 months ago.
A week in the Windsor Triathlon Natalie was also racing as an elite in a smaller field but the biggest female elite field in this event. The swim of 1500m in the Thames is always a challenge but she swam well in the relatively warm water and posted a time more than a minute quicker than last year as an age grouper. Her mount onto the bike was not great and she lost contact with the people around her but soon got into a group for the majority of the 42km cycle. Her 10km run was strong to finish 15th - very happy and very tired.
Finally, just six days after Windsor it was back to age group racing with the British age group Olympic distance championships held at Rutland Water in Leicestershire, which was also a qualifying event for the World Championships in Canada later this year and the European championships in Switzerland next summer.
Being an age group event the cycling section had the non drafting rule on a tough and challenging course and Natalie started well in her best discipline, the swim where she was out in third place and quickly out onto the bike course. She knew there were some very strong cyclists in the field and with it still being her weakness she went as hard as she could but inevitably was overtaken before the run where she was tired but looked strong and even overtook a woman in a sprint finish to come in as 12th overall female and fifth in her age group which should be enough to qualify for both the European and World Championships. Natalie told the Advertiser: “My age group the 25-29 category is one of the strongest and in any other category I would have been placed in the top three.”
She added: “I would like to thank the people who have supported or sponsored me so far and if anyone would like to support my race in Canada they can at www.gofundme.com/natalie-triathlon or email@example.com.”