Katie Zaferes keeps ascending in the world of women’s triathlon.
Three years ago, the North Carroll High School graduate finished fifth in the International Triathlon Union’s World Triathlon Series. In 2016, Zaferes came in fourth after competing in the Rio Olympics.
Last year, she finished third in the ITU’s final standings. Now, Zaferes can claim a runner-up finish after participating in one of the world’s most competitive events for her sport.
Zaferes took third at the World Triathlon Grand Final on Sept. 15 in Australia, and her placement cemented a second-place finish in the overall standings.
She entered the race ranked first in the world, with Vicky Holland of Great Britain close behind. And with no other competitor close enough to contend for the top spot with one event remaining, the Grand Final turned into a head-to-head matchup.
A triathlon consists of three stages — a 1,500-kilometer swim, followed by a 38-kilometer bike ride and a 10K run.
Zaferes exited the water in third place in the Grand Final, behind Holland and British teammate Jessica Learmonth. After the bike riding portion, Zaferes contended with Holland and Aussie Ashleigh Gentle for the lead, according to an article on USA Triathlon’s website.
Gentle and Holland pulled ahead late in the run for a 1-2 finish, and Zaferes took third in 1 hour, 52.33 minutes.
“Every year I’m getting better and learning a little bit more, so I can’t fault myself for that,” Zaferes said in the USA Triathlon article. “I felt a taste of it today, where I can go and how to get there and what I need to get better with. You learn every race.”
The season was a successful one for Zaferes, even thought it started with some adversity.
“Of course I was incredibly motivated, but also knew in order to perform well I needed to stay focused on the process and what had brought me success this season,” Zaferes said. “My goal is always to try and be the best version of myself as an athlete in every race I do.”
Zaferes said qualifying for the Olympics in 2016 and competing in Rio made her a better athlete. But it was somewhat of a start, she said.
“I feel like my journey in triathlon is just part of an evolution as an athlete,” Zaferes said. “Each year I get better and have a better understanding of what it takes to be the best. I’ve learned things about myself mentally and physically that has led to my consistency. Being able to have a resilient and adaptable mindset for racing has been key.”
Zaferes put together a standout high school running career at North Carroll (she was Katie Hursey then).
She starred on the Panthers’ cross country team and earned Times Runner of the Year awards in 2005 and 2006.