Con­quer­ing the heat of Chal­lenge Roth

South Waikato News - - Community Cookbook - LUKE KIRKEBY

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.

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