In The Ascendancy: Stef Jackson-Horner
In September 2014 my Dad decided after 40 years of running that it was no longer enough of a challenge, so he entered a local triathlon. Not wanting to be outdone I borrowed my partner’s bike and entered. I have always swam competitively since a young child so this part didn’t faze me but in the other two sections I was just waiting for the end. Turns out it all went pretty well and in the well renowned hardest sprint distance triathlon in the country I finished in second place.
I had caught the bug! I love training hard anyway but find competing in events gives me a focus and makes me push that little bit harder in every set. Through the year I have started to enjoy the Aquathlons more, mainly because it means no blagging 24km on a borrowed bike - obviously a massive bonus! After 2 further races, getting a 2nd and 4th under my belt, I wanted to qualify for the National Championships. This meant another new thing; open water!
I consider myself to be pretty tough and swimming in dark murky water doesn’t bother me, despite not liking pond weed touching my feet, but nothing could have prepared me for this swim! Swimming is my favourite thing to do ever but I hated it, I was in a borrowed Tri wetsuit so I was totally freezing, there were fish, I felt sea sick bobbing along in the waves, I just wanted to get out. But giving up is never an option so instead I held my own and fought back in the run to finish in second place. Not bad for my first OW attempt and that was it I was going to the National Championships and undertaking yet another new aspect… a sea swim. I was hoping for a better swim; I knew what to do now, I had the tactics going round and round in my head, I was going for clean water, ready and determined. I wouldn’t say it went perfectly and was my dream race but I was crowned Runner-up British Aquathlon Champion. I had done it, I had held my own against the best in the country – that is all I ever wanted and I am so proud! I don’t think any race goes without a hiccup, in this one I was stung across my neck by a jelly fish and had to go back in transition to get my race belt that I had forgotten to put on – who does that in the National Champs?! But it was fun, I was working hard and that’s what matters. Everything I do is due to pure 100% love of it and giving things a go, you never know what you can do until you try and you often surprise yourself.
Next step for me is the European and World Aquathlon champs in 2016. To have the opportunity to compete against the best in the world whilst representing the mighty GBR is so exciting and something that keeps me focused every night in training. It makes every muddy, sweaty, painful rep totally worth it.
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