Conquering the heat of Challenge Roth
Tokoroa triathlete Sjaan Sikking is still buzzing weeks after coming third in her age group during Germany’s Challenge Roth.
The 23-year-old has recently returned to her job as a barista at Sweet Rose Espresso after a well deserved holiday following the impressive placing in the world’s largest long distance triathlon.
Sikking, who was the youngest of 26 New Zealanders who took part, said while an incredible experience, competing was far more intense than she anticipated.
‘‘We had been training in winter when it was -2 degrees to having to compete in 41 degrees with only five days to acclimatise so it was so hard and five New Zealanders didn’t make it over the finish line,’’ she said.
She said the build up on race day was nerve-wracking.
‘‘I have never felt so nervous in my entire life. We caught a bus to the actual event and I felt like I was going to spew,’’ she said.
‘‘The whole bus was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop so I had my headphones in, raging to my sounds.’’
‘‘I felt like I was about to cry because I didn’t want to let anyone down as so many people had helped me get there. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it over the finish line,’’ she said.
But a team karakia soon lifted spirits.
‘‘That made us relax and after that I felt good and got into race mood,’’ she said.
‘‘The swim start was crazy as we had to swim in a narrow canal and the girls went first which was really hard because the guys were much stronger swimmers so we got swam over, punched and kicked, it was insane.’’
There were so many injuries,’’ she said.
Sikking said the extreme heat made the bike phase and run just as gruelling.
‘‘I saw so many people on the side of the road with ambulances,’’ she said.
‘‘One of the pro’s fell off their bike too and got hit by another cyclist, it was crazy. It was literally like ‘what is going on’, everyone just wanted to come first.’’
She said the huge crowds of supporters helped her push on.
‘‘The streets were packed with people, it was amazing the whole time. Germans really know how to party,’’ she laughed.
Finishing in 14 hours and 22 minutes Skilling said she couldn’t be prouder.