Queen of Kona
IRONMAN world champion Anne Haug about her journey to become the Queen of Hawaii.
Anne Haug was by far no novice. Before her Hawaii-triumph she had collected WCH medals in all triathlon distances: vice world champion in short-distance 2012 and world champion 2013 as part of the sprint „mixed relay“. 2018 she reached third at the IRONMAN 70.3 WCH in South Africa; shortly after she also mounted the IRONMAN WCH Podium in Kona / Hawaii.
An impressive career that reached its (provisional) peak one year later: 2019 on the 12th of October Anne has the perfect day. She outpaces the world’s elite in long-distance triathlon and crowns herself, on the legendary Ali’i Drive in Kona, to the first German female IRONMAN-World Champion.
Carried by the atmosphere
A powerful performance in the top swimming group was the basis and enabled her „to act and not react“ in the remaining race, Anne said in retrospect. On the bike she „actively kept the speed up“, to avoid the strong Brit Lucy Charles-Barkley to get away to far and keep all possibilities alive in the final marathon.
On the running stretch she played out her best cards (marathon personal best 2:36:13 h). Calm and continuously she closed the gap to the leader and finally passed her. „I was running at my speed and listened to my body. And at the end you don’t feel anything anyhow, the atmosphere carries you over the finish line.“
Strength comes from the head
Triathlon is simple: the patient ones are rewarded. Anne says: „As a child I was able to try out all kinds of sports and I soon noticed that I can run long distances pretty fast.“ Although she did not like the swimming very much: at the age of 20 she decided to put all her energy into a triathlon career. Why she did it? Because she wanted to.
»Everything is possible if you know that you’re doing the right things.«
„It is fascinating what you can accomplish if you really want it. If you continuously train and work on yourself with dedication“, Anne describes her way to be the IRONMAN world champion. „You have to have dreams and give everything to reach your goals. Then everything is possible, because you know that you are doing the right thing.“
Heart and lung need time
Our body reaches its muscular performance peak in younger years. In a lot of sports we reach our pinnacle in the mid-twenties. Triathlon is different: it is no exception if we reach our full stamina at our late thirties or even forties. Heart and Lung are late starters, they need time to fully develop.
This is why most of the professionals start their triathlon careers on the short distances, before switching to the middle and long distance (IRONMAN) races to use their acquired stamina and championship rigidity. It was the same story with Anne Haug, with the age of 36 she was finally ready for the big triumph in Kona.
Defeats are the key to success
In order to be successful it is important to see defeats not as setbacks – but rather as a step on the way to the front. „Defeats are forming your character and willpower, they give you the chance to reconsider things. And whether you are satisfied or not, it should not be depending on the ranking. Only your performance counts.“
»You can sense that something special is coming up.«
By the way, despite all her routine and competition experience, even the world champion is nervous before the start. But even this is of fundamental importance, says the qualified sports scientist: „You can sense that something special is coming up. That it is important to you. If you accept this tension in a positive way, you are ready to call up your best performance.“
From Corona to Kona
When all public pools were closed for weeks due to the corona pandemic, Anne attached rubber bands to the banisters, placed herself on a piano stool and trained her arms. Subsequently anxious weeks of uncertainty, meanwhile the IRONMAN WCH 2020 has been cancelled. At least: Germany’s top female triathlete stays reigning world champion for an additional year.
How does Anne Haug keep her motivation up in times like these? What exactly is she preparing for, while reeling off these intensive training sessions? „Naturally we are all in a standby position, tying to maintain our level“, she says. „In general my goal is as simple as clear: When we restart I want to be as fit as possible.“