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Overcoming obstacles en route to Olympics

Columnist's note: This is the ninth in a series of columns on local professional triathlete Katie Zaferes (née Katie Hursey) and her journey to becoming an Olympic-bound athlete.

SL: What is the biggest challenge you've faced, or the toughest race you've had?

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KZ: The biggest challenge I faced was when I wasn't happy with a previous training environment and I didn't trust my coach. That was when I decided to switch coaches and now I couldn't be happier.

The toughest race I've had was probably WTS Cape Town two years ago. I had a great swim, but [fell while] mounting my bike and ended up in the second pack. Then I accidentally touched someone's wheel, crashed, and got run over by the bike behind me. I finished the bike but when it came to the run I ended up pulling out [of the race]. [Afterward], I tried to come back too quickly [from my injuries]. It was such a big learning experience and it led to many positive changes, but at the time it was hard.

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SL: Who is your biggest competition? Any friendly rivalries? How do you and your teammates support each other?

KZ: [My] biggest competition [is] fellow American Gwen Jorgensen because she went undefeated last season and was world champion.

I have a friendly rivalry with every single person on the course during a race. We compete against each other, but then are right back to congratulating or comforting each other as soon as it's over. We pretty much race the same people at each race so you get to know everyone.

In Chicago I was really struggling and a lot of people were passing me. It seemed like almost everyone who passed me said something motivating and encouraging. It was a cool experience. My teammates are included in that bunch. We try to work together as much as we can and always hope the best for everyone.

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SL: What injuries have you endured and how did you cope?

KZ: The only injuries I have endured are from crashing. The crash at WTS Cape Town took me out the longest with bruised ribs. Then I got back into training too quickly and had an Achilles injury. With the crashes I basically had road rash [and] the setback was mental. I lost confidence in my descending skills after crashing [and] became a lot more timid. It is something I've had to work hard to overcome.

SL: Have you done any Half-Ironman races or ultra/Ironman-distance races? Do you have any aspirations to go to Kona?

KZ: I have not, but I would like to dabble in it in the future. Maybe after this year I'd like to try a half Ironman. Tommy and I have gone to Kona to watch the race. It is grueling! The first year I thought everyone who started the race was crazy. After this year, though, I think it grew on me a little bit. It's definitely something I would like to do at some point, but I'm not sure yet if it is a bucket list item or something that I would seriously pursue.

410-857-7896

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