Lynette van der Merwe had the race of her life when she finished second at the recent┬á ITU World Long Distance Triathlon Championships in Henderson, Nevada in the United States.
The 24-year-old came back with the silver medal behind Australia’s Holly Claridge. The organisers cancelled the swim due to the very cold temperatures, which left the 120-kilometres cycle and 30km run. Although having the fastest bike leg, Lynette lost time to Claridge in the second transition as well as on the run to finish second
Below is her account of her second-place finish:
“After a long trip from South Africa to the USA we finally arrived in Henderson, Nevada. After many months of preparation and hard work we were all pretty eager, but nervous to race come the big day. The weather seemed cooler than what we expected, but we were happy not to have to stand the blistering desert heat. Although come race day we quickly took back our words, as the weather changed dramatically. Due to cold water and outside air temperatures we found out to our disappointment that the 4km swim leg was cancelled and that the race would start with a time trial 5sec apart.
“Cycling is my strongest discipline, so I wasn’t too worried, but I really felt disappointed that the swim was cancelled as I would have liked to see how I would have done in the race with the swim leg! I was thankful though not to cycle with wet clothes as it was really freezing. I started last in my age group, which I was pretty happy about as this meant I had to catch ÔÇô which I did very quickly. Before exiting the Lake Henderson Resort, probably 5km into the 120km cycle we had to do, I had already caught all of my competitors. The cycle leg was probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done. It was hills from start to finish and we had the wind constantly coming at us from all angles. The toughest hills were left for us to do during the last 20km of the cycle leg, one of them being an 18% gradient climb ÔÇô a real killer! I was the leading lady up until about 90km when the older age group ladies started catching up. I was happy to see none of my age-group competitors over taking me, which meant I was still in the lead off the bike and into T2.
“Coming off the bike my legs felt pretty ‘Yuk’ to put it bluntly, but my mind just kept saying ‘keep going’. During the cycle I had moments of weakness where I wanted to just stop, felt like I hit a wall and the thought of running 30km nearly broke me, but I pushed through. I cramped 1km into my run and started panicking but immediately started throwing cold water on my legs, which helped me. A tip from my coach Lucie Reed, which I was truly grateful for. It was my first 30km run ever and I managed to run from when I cramped around 1km, to not stopping once till my finish at 30km. Four laps felt like nothing compared to the tough cycle we had to endure. Knowing running was my weakest discipline I had some work to do but unfortunately I was caught by the Australian Holly Claridge who in the end beat me by 5min.
“Nevertheless I had a great run for someone who’s not a runner! I was glad to finish, legs felt broken and I was freezing but none of that mattered compared to the feeling I had, knowing I will be taking second place and bringing home a silver medal for South Africa.
“A big congrats to Holly Claridge, a deserved win! A big thank you to the Lord Almighty, without Him none of this would be possible. Thank you to my coach Lucie Reed for her coaching, guidance and support and of course to my family and friends for their love, understanding and support, also a big thanks to my product sponsors Compressport SA, Environ and 32Gi.