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Huatulco World Cup

By Kirsten Kasper | June 23, 2015, 7:51 a.m. (ET)

Coming off of a solid training block in Phoenix and Chula Vista, the World Cup in Huatulco, Mexico, was the next stop on my race schedule. I was extremely excited to get back racing and even more so on a course with an extremely challenging hill on the bike! The sprint triathlon consisted of 1 lap swimming of 750 meters, 4 laps biking of 5 kilometers each, and 2 laps running of 2.5k. The swim took place in the scenic Santa Cruz Bay. In the days leading up to the race, Renée (fellow CRP member) and I swam in the bay. This gave us the opportunity to explore the waters and see various sea life and coral.

Backing up a bit, flying into the Huatulco airport was gorgeous. The beautiful landscape and ocean views made for an exciting race location. The USA crew stayed at a beautiful all-inclusive resort located close to the ocean and situated on the bike course. Weather was predicted to be extremely hot, but a storm was passing through the area which caused for heavy rain. I was thankful for the rain and gray skies leading up to the race as it allowed for much cooler weather than expected.

Race day arrived with an early 5:30 a.m. wake up call. The rain had finally stopped and the weather was looking like it was going to cooperate! The ground was still wet, but it would not be a factor once the sun came up. The water temperature was toasty at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The majority of my warm-up was done in the ocean to try to stay as cool as possible before the start of the race.

The race was a beach start, so all 40 of us were lined up shoulder to shoulder on the shore. The first buoy was approximately 315 meters away and as we made our way around it I was sitting comfortably in the front pack. I came out of the water in sixth place and was off on the bike with a smooth transition.Kirsten Kasper Huatulco World Cup

The bike was going to be a tough one with a hill on each lap that was the steepest hill I have experienced in a race. The hill was followed quickly by a downhill which was where gaps in the pack opened up and over each lap the front pack gradually grew smaller. On the final lap of the bike, I got caught in a bike accident. Although I didn’t go down, I had to come to a complete stop and maneuver myself around the fallen athletes. I had to bike the final 3k alone and was 30 seconds down from the front pack coming into transition. As the crash was happening, my mind was racing and I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was in great position before the crash and confident in my run that if I got off the bike with the front pack, I could run myself onto the podium. When the crash happened, I thought for a split second as I biked alone that my goal of achieving my first world cup podium was out of reach. As I climbed the final time up the hill, I saw the lead pack coming down the hill on the other side of the road and it was in that moment that I pushed hard Kirsten Kasper Huatulco World Cupand was determined to make the most of the situation in which I found myself.

Coming off the bike, my legs felt heavy and I knew I had to really work the first 2.5k to catch the front runners. I gained ground on the runners ahead by focusing on what I could control by staying composed and within myself. Gradually over the first 2.5k I moved myself into fifth place. With less than 2k to go I moved into third place and used the momentum of a downhill to break away from fourth and fifth place. Rounding the corner and making my way to the line I was so happy surging for that finish line! I continued to run at full speed and kick to the line as I was unsure how close fourth place was behind me.  Crossing the line and achieving my goal was a moment I will always remember. The challenges I faced during the race are lessons learned and will only make me stronger going forward.

Kirsten Kasper Huatulco World Cup

 

Jarrod (my coach) told me going into the race that making the podium was achievable and to fulfill this goal was an amazing experience. I was excited to race Huatulco and test my biking ability on the challenging hills the course required us to climb. I am thrilled about my race result and happy to come away from the race with evidence that my training and hard work is paying off. None of this would have been possible without Jarrod’s continued guidance, USA Triathlon’s support, and my friends and family cheering me on along the way. Thank you to my sponsors Team Psycho and ROKA for providing me with the support needed to compete at this level. Words cannot express how thankful I am to have this opportunity to represent the USA and to continue traveling the world on this amazing journey.