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Kate Zaferes on her supertri E debut – “no tactics, just go hard, start to finish”

One of the most experienced triathletes in the world, Katie Zaferes talks to us about a new challenge this weekend at the supertri E World Championships

Chief Correspondent
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Katie Zaferes is one of the most consistently successful triathletes of the last decade. A World Triathlon champion in 2019, she won silver (Mixed Team Relay) and bronze (Individual) at Tokyo 2020, as well as being a Super League Championship Series winner.

Thus, there’s not too much that is new to such an experienced athlete, but this Saturday will see her debut in the indoor format at the supertri E World Championship at the London Aquatics Centre.

Ahead of her real life meets virtual introduction, we spoke to her to find out how she has prepared for the challenge ahead.

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Insecurity, doubt and finding confidence

How does Katie feel her training has gone ahead of the event?

“It’s gone really well. Besides regular training, I’ve also been able to get on the self-propelling treadmill at a local gym and that’s really helped with confidence. A lot of my insecurities and doubts come from not riding Zwift much and not doing the indoor treadmill, so being able to do a little bit helps me feel better about it.

“Confidence wise, I think I feel well prepared and I’m leaning on that, because it’s still a race but one where there’s a lot more unknowns, so I’m just going to focus on myself and see what I can do and trust in my training and the preparation I’ve done.”

Katie Zaferes - Super League Triathlon London 2023
Photo Credit – Darren Wheeler / That Cameraman / Super League Triathlon

“Being new to the format, I think it just excites me to see what I can do. It’s new to me, it’s uncomfortable, there are more uncertainties in it… but that’s why it’s probably really good for me. I’m excited, especially now, as I’ve wrapped my mind around it and feel more prepared having watched some of the races and playing the race through my mind more. I’m excited just to see what happens, that the races are short, and so it’s like, ‘hey, you can do this for 10 / 12 minutes at a time.’

“It’s just fun to mix it up. I love the supertri vibe from events that I have done in the past Super League races, and so it’s nice to go into it not knowing what a supertri / World Triathlon combo looks like. Typically supertri is really intense, but a little bit more relaxed going into the races, and with the other athletes and things like that.”

Tactics, what tactics?!

With plenty of new complexities to learn, Zaferes looks set not to add to the burden by being too tactical in her personal approach to optimising her performance this week.

“For tactics and how I expect the racing to play out, I feel like I’ve just got to go all out. I mean it ends up being like 20 minutes of hard effort, or a little bit more than that. I sort of think in my head that there’s not going to much of a strategy. I guess it is possible that you could ease up slightly in the prelims if you are in a really good place, but in general, I think it’s just too short to be thinking about doing something tactical.

“I’d rather be in a really good position going into the final, than doing something tactical and then not make the final. You never know what can happen in such a short race. Basically, no tactics – just go hard and see where it gets me! I’m just planning on going hard, start to finish, for all of it.”

Cassandra Beaugrand, Katie Zaferes - Day 2 (Enduro) finish, Super League Triathlon Singapore

What does she think it will take to win?

“To win the world title, I think you need really clean races with minimal mistakes and being fast across the board. This is definitely a format that will be unforgiving if you are behind on anything, so I feel like you have to be super well-rounded and fast across the board with things like transitions too.”

When asked about who she’d like to be racing, it was a fellow mum who the US star really wanted to see this weekend – but perhaps not for triathlon reasons…

“I wish Jess Learmonth was racing… mainly because I want to see her and her baby, Freddie! She’s been very, very good in the past at this format, and I just miss her on the circuit and in life!”

Katie Zaferes - Super League Triathlon London 2023
Photo Credit – Darren Wheeler / That Cameraman / Super League Triathlon

Loving London: M&S and Wagamama…

In terms of specific preparation, being back in a familiar city is certainly something that will eliminate stress:

“Right now I really consider the motions of the race and visualizing exactly what I’m going to do for the race, especially as it is a bit different with back-to-back rounds, really short, and preparing for that little extra ‘fluster’ because of how speedy everything is. Especially for the final as that’s not our standard.

“I tend to just eat really plain things going into races, like white bread, eggs and crumpets since I’m here in London, and I love them. I did bring my music, and I tend to listen to The Score, I really like them. I don’t have any superstitions, but it’s nice to be in London and in the UK where things are so familiar. At this venue we’re at a hotel which is super close, it’s walkable, there’s lots of shops around and familiar things like Marks and Spencer which I love, and I’ll go to Wagamama for dinner.”

Katie Zaferes - Super League Triathlon Series Champion 2018/19
Photo by Tom Shaw/Superleague Triathlon
John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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