The Super League Inside Track – Rachel Klamer Brings Her A Game To Malta
When Rachel Klamer picked up the phone to shoot the breeze with us, discuss her season, and express her excitement going into the meat of the SLT Championship we found her tucked away at home in the Netherlands busily making a cake. She quickly reassured us that said cake was super healthy and packed full of micronutrients so our excitement faded slightly, but a cake is still a cake at the end of the day. It was within this relaxed setting that we had an informal conversation covering her experiences this year, her origins in the sport, and her expectations going forward.
Rachel has had an interesting season, a flying start with victory in Abu Dhabi, but then in her own words things have not gone so well as the season progressed.
“A great start and a really sh*t finish, well disappointing actually, I mean I started out doing really well, actually I had two really good races then I had a crash, then some illness. So yea quite a disappointing season, so when I was in the Gold Coast after the race I didn’t feel like talking to anyone or posting anything on Social Media, so I took a little break for a couple of days which was good.”
Sometimes when you’re in the bubble of a triathlon season a break is very much required – time to download and process the time spent on the road and to inject a little bit of normality back into a hectic schedule. Rachel has been spending some time at home doing exactly that before the SLT racing takes hold with the next two back to back races.
“I gave myself some time because obviously, I know in SLT it is very important to have good bike skills and that’s something that’s clearly missing out now – which might have to do with my crash earlier in the season. Not racing is not an option, I want to go there and I want to race in SLT, so I’m just going to go and do it and hopefully I can tweak those skills a little bit. It’ll be a challenge for me.”
Triathlon is all about finding a balance between pushing just hard enough or pushing too hard and reaching your limit. If you cross the line and overstretch you could end up causing an injury or even worse having an accident – Rachel is trying to rediscover this balance in her racing as she moves into SLT.
“Since the crash earlier this season I got a bit more scared, I actually went over the limit and now it’s like searching for where is that limit? How fast can I go through corners, how far can I lean? Just getting a bit more nervous on the bike and I should have realised it earlier. Maybe it’s just a matter of time and getting comfortable on the bike again.”
Coming from a swimming and running background it wasn’t until 2008 at the age of 18 that she tried her first triathlon and experienced her first road bike.
“I swam since I was quite young, because there was not much else I could do where I used to live – it was either swimming or ball sports and I really wasn’t any good at ball sports. Soon as I went to high school a lot of my friends stopped swimming and I was one of the older ones. So I picked up running when I was around 17 years old – so I thought ok, it’s nice to run let’s give this a try and then really quickly I actually went to the National Running Team. Then I heard that there was a local triathlon talent day where you only had to do an 800m swim and 3k on the track – that was perfect for me as I’d never ridden a road bike. So I went to the talent day and qualified for the European Championships for the Juniors without ever having done a triathlon. So this was back in 2008 and from then everything went pretty fast. I had to choose between triathlon and athletics – the choice was easily made, I went with triathlon as I could train all the time and still run whenever I wanted to.”
Rachel tells the story in such a relaxed way and states she never made the decision to race triathlons but just decided to try this one off day and from then on it just happened – she’d tapped into a talent she didn’t know she had utilising an existing aerobic engine to combine three sports.
“I’m pleased I went down this road, I’ll never regret this. I always want to do better and strive to better what I have done in the past – it’s seeming a little tricky this season as I haven’t done better than what I have done in the past. Whenever you’re on the start line you’re wondering if you can beat the other people or do better than you’ve done before – it’s always a challenge.”
Described by her best friends as determined and persistent – Rachel always wants to show her fans that no matter how much you achieve in life and whatever level you’re at you can always be friendly and nice with people.
“I love training here with juniors at home and I like to go to the supermarket and chat to people about how their days are going and what mine was like. I like to be a normal person and get away from being the athlete and just be myself”.
Rachel talks lovingly about the sport and how much it brings to her life
“It’s pretty special to have a job where you’re not sitting at a desk but you’re outside, you ride your bike or you go to the pool where other people are casually swimming but you actually have to work. Sometimes it’s quite funny.”
Whereas a running theme throughout our SLT super stars she is less of a fan of the travel commitments,
“my first coach said one day you’re gonna hate this travelling, you’re going to really dislike getting into the plane again and travelling for 24 hours. Back then I didn’t believe it but now I’m actually happy when we travel to Australia and it’s done. I’d have never of thought I would think about it – I love new places but not the way there, it would be nice if we could do some time travelling.”
Super League Triathlon is a new challenge for all the athletes – some loving the entire experience and others cherry picking elements of the weekend.
“Last year people asked me, did you enjoy it, did you love it? It depends on which part, I loved everything around the race but not the race itself. People then stare at me and say are you joking – and I’m like no I really hated it, it was so painful and so short. It’s something Richard loves, he loves the short stuff and the fact it is so powerful and fast, but it’s something my body does not like. I’d probably be better at the slower long distance stuff – I love everything around it. So I’m very excited to see if I can do a little bit better than last year.
Everything around it is amazing – thinking of it makes me really excited because it’s really cool and it’s really good for the sport because thousands of people watch it. Who’s going to watch a long distance race, I’m sorry, I wouldn’t. The fact that so many people enjoy watching SLT is really cool.”
Having the season she’s had, Rachel is looking forward to a new test this year with SLT providing an opportunity to go fast and hard at the end of the year.
“It tests you in ways a normal triathlon does not, with transitions becoming super important. If you lose one or two seconds in transition you can be out and it’s so short you cant lose your focus for a second because one little mistake can be a really big one.”
Malta is going to provide a unique challenge and Rachel is keen to bring her A Game to the island.
“Hmmmmm you never know what happens – you have to race clever, race smart and I think if you’ve done it before you may have a little advantage. I’ve heard Malta has a cheeky climb in it and I have not been in Malta for years – if I had to choose a place to go it would be Malta.
Whatever happens SLT brings so much fun to the sport – it’s such fun to watch and so much will be happening at the same time. For us it is enjoyable too as the athletes behave differently at an SLT race – everyone is happy, serious yes, but as it’s such a challenge for everyone it brings everyone together. Athletes, the organisers and the public – the atmosphere is really great.”
Malta is coming up fast kicking off with a Swim TT on Friday 26th October before a full weekends frantic racing. Join the SLT team and athletes on this incredible journey into the unknown and support Rachel in her mission to master the new format. Will the less technical but hillier bike course give Rachel an advantage over the field? Maybe a few more nutrient packed health cakes will aid in the process? Whatever the outcome we know Malta will find Rachel Klamer as she always is, natural, fun, and laser focused on success!