Triathlete Carolin Lehrieder is gearing up for her next big win
If you had to name the world’s top triathlon stars, Carolin Lehrieder might not be on the list yet. However, this could be about to change. The 31-year-old German athlete from Würzburg has manoeuvred herself into the perfect position to push for her next big win in 2021. Even after a disappointing finish to 2020.
Suffering on the Speedway
Challenge Daytona at the world-famous international speedway was the top triathlon event on the 2020 calendar for many athletes. Carolin competed, but had to withdraw at kilometre 55 of the cycling. What happened? “I had been fighting problems with my foot for a few weeks. During the running, I had been compensating for it. This affected my pelvis and led to me having a lopsided sit position on the bike.”
“I need to rest my feet for a bit.”
The pain got too much. Carolin was forced to abandon the race. The diagnosis showed a build-up of fluid (oedema) in the midfoot, which is indicative of a fatigue fracture. How do you respond to that? In a positive manner! “It’s a shame that I had to pull out in Daytona,” says Carolin, “but if I have to take time out to recover, this is best time to do it. I need to rest my feet for a bit. I can start pushing again in January.”
Despite her DNF in Florida, Carolin says she enjoyed the race. The triathletes rode 20 laps of the 4-kilometre Daytona International Speedway on its oval track. It was a unique experience. “There was no point that you could sit up in the saddle. It was all about maintaining the perfect aerodynamic position. Being so aware of your aerodynamic position and focusing purely on your own power output... was totally fascinating.”
“It’s a luxury to already be qualified for Hawaii”
The long 2020 Corona year has been a tough one for many triathletes. Because races were cancelled and postponed, planned rest periods went out of the window. Athletes were left in uncertainty for months on end, training to maintain optimal fitness in case an event should actually be held What do you hope for 2021? “It’s going to be a very exciting year,” says Carolin, “and I’m starting from a position of luxury. After all, I’ve already qualified for the Ironman World Championship on Hawaii.”
One of 35 pro triathletes to compete in Kona
In September 2019, Carolin Lehrieder won the Ironman Italy. Her victory, and her setting a new course record (8:48:23 h), certainly caused a stir among the competition. And it also guaranteed the Würzburg athlete a place in the starting line-up for the World Championship on Hawaii. As one of 35 professional athletes, she is a strong contender. Given that the 2020 World Championship was cancelled due to Corona, her guaranteed starting place was postponed to October 2021.
“I know now that I am capable of winning races.”
Victory in Italy was an important milestone. After six top-ten finishes in professional long-distance events, it was her first Ironman win. “Standing there in first place on the podium, gave me enormous confidence. I know now that I can enter a race with the aim of taking control and winning it. As a strong swimmer and cyclist, I can now make an even bigger impression on races.”
Second. Fifth. First.
She dedicated 2020 to working on her running. “I’ve made a big step forward here,” she says “and I hope to be able to demonstrate this in 2021.” There may be future victories in the pipeline. The same as 2019, when Carolin finished second in the Challenge Taiwan and fifth in the Challenge Roth that traditionally has a strong field, before she went on to win the Ironman Italy.
“I would have loved to continue the winning streak.”
“Of course, it was a shame that everything was disrupted by Corona,” says Carolin. “Following my good results in 2019, it would have been great to have been able to keep the momentum. I would have loved to continue the winning streak.” Who knows, maybe 2021 in Hawaii will see a new streak, when the 32-year old athlete (still a young age for a long-distance athlete) will be perfectly trained and competing in Kona where she is aiming for a top ten finish.
In the flow
It was here on Big Island Hawaii that Carolin Lehrieder started her professional career in 2013. After her third place in the 18-24 age group (and world championship bronze medal), she decided to go professional. “I originally planned to just do a trial season. But then things just went on from there. Now I really enjoy the flow that this job brings – and it’s still my hobby and passion.”
“I want to know what I’m capable of.”
Did Carolin ever regret the decision during all the years of intensive training? “No”, she says without hesitation. “Naturally, it’s tough sometimes. And of course, you have phases when it’s hard to demand so much of yourself. But this is me. This is what I’m like. Doing sport makes me feel happy. I want to know what I’m capable of. This is what I’m all about.”