Natalie Van Coevorden is an Australian representative in Triathlon, having competed on the world stage since she left high school in 2010. The 24-year-old was born in Campbelltown, NSW and now splits her residence between Wollongong, NSW and Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain for training purposes. Van Coevorden has set her sights on representing Australia in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games and is training and competing relentlessly to achieve her goal.
Only two weeks have passed since Madrid World Cup and it actually felt strange having a weekend in Vitoria. The past two weeks especially have been specific work to the demands of the Leeds course but also personal work on my run form. I have been working a lot with our staff here and back home on being more efficient when I run slow and even more so when I run fast. Every week we have been working on small changes and key words and I can already feel the difference in the changes. I didn’t have the best of races in Leeds last year due to illness so I wanted to prove to myself that I had the ability to ride and perform well on such a demanding course.
With the start list being so small, this always means there are less links in the chain. I stood on the start line next to some very good swimmers and I knew the pace would be on from the start. Within 100m, we were already strung out in a single line. All I was thinking was hold onto the feet in front of you. The first lap was fast and the pace felt even faster the second lap. I never felt like I was on the rivet so much in a swim before and I knew no one was behind me when I didn’t have anyone banging on my feet. I got out with super frozen feet to start the long run to transition. I could see the gap to me and the first girls out of the water was between 6-8 critical seconds that I needed to have made in the water to have had a chance of making that group.
This year we rode up the other side of Roundhay Park which meant we had about a 500m hill to start the ride. I could see people just ahead of me and I had no idea who and how long people were behind me. The first five girls were out of my sight and I started rolling turns with one other girl till a group of five caught us. We picked up another girl along the way that got dropped from the front group to create a group of eight. The ride into town is 12km with a lot of downhill and a few twists and turns. By the time we got to town, the front four had put a minute into our group and it was time to start
seven laps of the town loop. The town loop is only 3.8km with 14 corners per lap and one u-turn. The course never lets you sit up and it was a constant effort for the whole 40km, not only physically but mentally too. The front four gained a lot of time on us and we maintained about a minute or so gap from the chase pack behind us.
Getting off the bike, this was probably the first time in my past few races that I haven’t felt “strong” running off the bike. I latched myself onto the back of another athlete and we swapped turns for most of the 10km run as the run course was just as demanding. The crowds on the streets were amazing and it was awesome to have such great support out on the course. I crossed the line in 12th place with a lot of positives and happy with my consistency for the season so far.