Katrina Rye wins European Triathlon Championship in Romania
PUBLISHED: 18:08 10 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:08 10 July 2019
An army physiotherapist from Exmouth, representing Great Britain, won the European Triathlon Championships (Middle Distance) in Romania last weekend, in the build-up to the World Championships in September in France, writes Steve Birley.
Katrina Rye, who is 28, and a physiotherapist officer in the army, gained her triathlon elite racing licence earlier this year after winning in the Canary Islands.
In her first 'pro' competition - the world-ranking Half Ironman race in Stafford (England) last month - she took third behind two British athletes who are among the top 10 in the world.
Three weeks later she was back on the podium following a second-place finish at the Half Ironman Lahti (Finland) and four days after that she travelled to Romania to race in the European Triathlon Union European Championships at Tirga Mures last Sunday.
With athletes from Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Croatia and Hungary as the prime competition, she exited the water after the 2km swim in third place before battling through a hilly, twisty and demanding 50-mile cycle to record the fastest time and take the lead by three minutes.
A swift half marathon run, made harder by the noon day 28 degree heat, gained her more time to break the tape to win the championships in a time of four hours and seven minutes.
Katrina has been racing shorter triathlons for three years, but stepped up to middle distance / 'Half Ironman' in 2018, winning in Calgary (Canada) in August and back in UK winning the English Championships in October.
Growing up in Exmouth, she has always been a capable runner, winning Devon and South West Schools cross-country titles, and in the water trained and raced with Exmouth Swimming and LifeSaving Society from age 11 to 18.
Learning ride a bike at speed, sustained for two plus hours, has been a learning curve involving many hours of hard work but a strong 'runner's' engine helps.
She rides a Felt IA TT bike and will be testing herself against the best cycling time-triallists in the country next month.
After turning professional this spring, her main sponsor is Meglio, a physiotherapy products supplier.
Her nutrition sponsor is Precision Hydration, who work with elite athletes to help them understand and manage their personal hydration needs.
Coached by Damion Littlewood at Tri-1st Coaching, she is training almost full time - she's on the army's Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.
She lives close enough to participate in training sessions at the Loughborough Triathlon Performance Centre but most training is alone, ploughing the swimming pool lanes or in open water when possible, cycling on the turbo or both cycling and running on the roads, sometimes with her triathlete partner; a top amateur.
A favourite session is a 'brick': a hard cycle immediately followed by a speedy run at race pace. And when back home in Exmouth, the hills of East Devon provide a stern test and great training and the Jurassic Coast path offers a welcome break from the roads.
So what now for Katrina? After three hard 70-mile races in less than a month, she intends to take a short break from competition so she can get a solid block of training in preparation for the World Championships in Nice (France) in early September where the best 60 athletes in the world have qualified to start.
Her form suggests she'll be right up there targeting a top 20 place in this her very first elite season. Who knows: she might do even better.