What an adventure it had been competing at the FISU University World Championships in Maceio. Initially, it was not even planned for me to be racing this championship mainly due to the long travel. But after qualifying and a needed person to fill in the fourth team spot I decided to take the opportunity to compete probably at my last uni worlds (As I have almost finished my master’s degree). We flew to Brazil on Monday four days before the race. The 12-hour flight to Sao Paulo in a huge airplane was quite a thing but luckily it was overnight. The 2 hours there to catch our connecting flight was a big stress and we luckily just made it. Then almost 24h later we arrived in Maceio. Pouring rain welcomed us at the airport, a condition which kept going over the entire week alternating with the sunniest sky. Yet, it was always hot and humid and the nonstop sweating started.
We finished the day by unpacking, running and a beautiful sunset swim in the sea. There were quite some waves which made it lots of fun and the lightning was really magical and made one excited for the days to come. The following day it was national holiday and therefore the beach was packed with local people. Literally packed – so we experienced the full Brazilian beach time. We went open water swimming again. Because Maceio did not have any public swimming pool, but hey if you can swim in over 25 degree Celsius water and a beautiful sand beach not much to complain about. On Thursday it was already time for the bike and swim familiarization and afterwards just relax and get ready to race the sprint distance on Friday Morning starting at 7:00 am. Well it actually started 15’ later because it’s Brazil 😉 but not a big matter. There was also quite a storm haling down 1h before the race filling up the race shoes with some centimeters of water and all the holes on the bumpy road too. The race itself was good but not great. I struggled a bit on the swim completely in the bulk and was just not swimming fast enough. Therefore, I had to work quite hard on the bike in the beginning until I found myself in the second group. However, once we were quite big the dynamics decreased, and we were not moving forward fast anymore and lost 90” on the leading pack. Once we got onto the run I had some difficulties in the beginning but could build over the entire 5km and we caught quite some athletes from the first pack and in the end I finished 12th. There was not much time to celebrate and relax as we had the mixed team relay the upcoming day so it was straight towards recovering best for that. Again, a lot of laying around, relaxing, a 45min turbo season sweating above the hotel lobby with view onto the beach volleyball court (Also Beach Uni Worlds took place in Maceio). Dinner - Again the exact same mix of food we had all the days before being rice, noodles, soja or meat and some vegetables.
On Saturday morning it was then go time with the team. For me it was my first relay in a very long time (youth years) and actually the first one which really counted. Being set as number four, the last leg, quite some pressure was on me because we knew we wanted to medal and I had to bring it home ;). My teammates (Fabian, Livia and Pierre) did a great job and Pierre handed over just some seconds behind the leader. It was full gas from the start, no reserves were kept and it was hard, very hard but sooo much fun too. On the swim I just tried to not get caught by the girls behind me, and with all the waves it was quite difficult to navigate when you swim for yourself for once. My transition was good and I could hop on the bike making sure the three nations Brazil, Italy and US could not follow my wheel. It was some long 5km where I really pushed to the max. Coming from the bike in T2 and starting the run I could really feel the max effort pay its tribute but I pushed on. The Brazilian girl eventually passed me midway into the run and towards the end I tried to close the gap but I didn’t fully make it. However, we were absolutely thrilled about Bronze. My first international medal in triathlon. Sharing the emotions as a team was even better. The day continued with watching the beach volleyball finals and the closing ceremony. Then we eventually played volleyball as a team ourselves on the beach courts. Filled with lots of laughter and being a perfect ending for our Brazilian travel. Because the next day it was already time to catch the flight early in the morning to start the over 24h travel back home.
In the end I’m so glad I took the chance to compete in Brazil and coming home with 3ed at world champs just feels incredible and will always stay in my memories.