Roughly 20 minutes before my wave was due to set off at 8:05am I worked my way into my brand new HUUB Axena wetsuit with the help of my dad and a plastic bag. I then promptly made my way over to the race briefing where around 900 athletes and some spectators stood around to listen and make note of any key information. Straight after the under 20 males set off it was time for the women to climb into the river and acclimatise to the cold water. It was a pretty standard scene for an open water swim, shocked faces due to the cold water, disgusted sounding grumbles coming from ladies peeling weeds off the sides of their hands and faces and the suspicious looking women who are just stood either doing nothing or having a pee in their wetsuit to keep themselves warm!
The swim was brutal. Absolute chaos. I managed to find myself at the front of the pack when the starting horn was blown and before I had even had a chance to take a stroke my head was dunked beneath the water, then again, then again and yep, then again. Woman after woman pulling and scraping at my arms, legs and even head just to get past me. I tried to fight back and replicate what they were doing however with my somewhat smaller frame and puny arms that didn’t really have much impact. So it was at this point I decided to ditch that idea and go with the flow until it had calmed down and aim to catch up my competitors that way. Roughly at the 300m mark I found myself hunting down competitor after competitor still receiving a few bumps as I did so. On the way back from the half way mark I remained pretty much on my own until 200m from the swim exit where I tucked in behind a group of 2 females before blitzing it in front of them for a clear swim exit.
Transition 1 went all to plan; the breakaway zip feature on my wetsuit worked a treat and allowed for a rapid wetsuit removal. After fighting with my helmet strap for a few seconds I was running out with my bike in hand to the mount line. I arrived at the mount line at the back of a pack of 5 females, who all promptly after the line stopped dead to clamber on to their bikes. Seizing this opportunity I ran past them all to do a quick flying mount, feet straight in the shoes and I set off for the bike course.
The bike course was fairly flat and the roads surprisingly clear. I used my competitive tactics to work out that all of my under 20 competitors would have a race number of 25 and under. Every time someone would pass me my first action was to check their number belt, but luckily no under 20 females managed to pass me. I used every competitor (no matter their age or sex) as what my coach Brian would call a ‘carrot’. From the moment they passed me I was like a horse after the carrot pushing hard to keep up and not let them past without a fight. I came back into the town of St Neots and safely weaved my way through all the mini roundabouts and speed bumps. I dismounted and ran swiftly into transition going through the stream of outgoing competitors .
Transition 2 went well, I entered the transition the same time as another under 20 female however my speedy transition luckily allowed me to head out of transition before this other competitor.
The thought of someone on my tail constantly pushed me hard to run faster and faster. My legs felt surprisingly strong even after the punishment I had put them through on the bike. I’m guessing all the winter brick sessions set by my coach were really showing the benefits at that moment! The run was perfect and I managed to pull in a sub 19 minute 5k even with accidently running down the finish shoot only to realise I was in fact going the wrong way. Great way to embarrass yourself Rosie! On the second lap I was hunting down any female I had in sight and successfully managed to catch them all before turning down the finish shoot (the correct time this time) for a final sprint finish!
At the finish I wondered into the crowd of families and friends all congratulating each other before finally finding my own support crew. My mum and dad both hugged me tight and that was followed by Annie and Brian both following suit.
I left my parents in the queue to collect my result slip and went to go get changed into something a bit warmer. When I finally returned they were holding the race slip. My dad looks at me and says in a serious voice that he was really sorry, at this point my heart sunk. I could feel my qualification hopes slipping away. My dad handed me the slip and I immediately turned it over. My eyes scanned the page and found the section I was looking for. Category position. I couldn’t believe my eyes. 1st. I expecting around a 6th place not a 1st. I looked up in shock at my parents, I had done it! We shared an emotional hug and I will never forget that moment. All my hard work had finally paid off. I realised I was off to Chicago! A huge smile broke out across my face. I found Brian amongst the crowd and kept a good strong poker face as I walked over. He was stood with 2 other Team Cherwell members. Without losing my cool I handed him the slip and they all crowded around. I told them promptly to look at the bottom where the category position was. They uproared in delight! Brian and the rest hugged me tight and congratulated me massively, it was a wonderful feeling.
Later I collected my medal and proudly stood on the podium for photos. It was this moment I realised that hard work and dedication can pay off. This race also showed me that I need to have more confidence within myself and believe that I can do it. I am so proud to call myself under 20 female British National Sprint Triathlon Champion!
A massive thanks is due to my dedicated coach Brian, amazing supporters, and the lovely marshals and officials at St Neots for a wonderful race.