Stourbridge triathlete embarking on the ride of her life
Failing to finish a race is not an option for triathlete Kate Miller.
An Olympic-distance triathlon involves a 1,500m swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run, so it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted.
But even though Kate, from Stourbridge, only began competing in amateur events six years ago, she has already qualified to represent Great Britain.
And this summer, the 38-year-old will fly out to Russia to represent the GB Age-Group team at the European Championships.
But Kate enjoys the buzz she gets from the challenging her body in the three gruelling disciplines.
Even when a race gets tough or she suffers an unexpected setback like a puncture crossing the finish line is the only thing that matters.
“I love the challenge of the three sports and the challenge of taking your body from swimming to cycling and onto a run,” she says. “It’s the endurance aspect too.
“You’ve got to have the grit and determination to push yourself and keep going.
“I’ve never not finished a race. I had a puncture and fixed my bike at the side of the road and then carried on.
“I once hit a pebble while cycling and ended up flying over the handlebars.
“I sat in a ditch for five minutes and then got back on the bike and carried on.
“I actually finished fifth in that race despite falling off, it made me wonder what I could have achieved in that race had I not fallen,” adds languages teacher Kate, who competes in around 10 to 12 triathlons and aquathlons – which consist of just the swimming and running sections – each year.
Although she was already a keen runner and swimmer, she had never ridden a road bike before she started taking part in the events.
“I started doing a few local races and I was finishing high up for my age group so I thought I would set myself the challenge of making GB qualification.
“I qualified for the European Championships in Glasgow last year and this year I’m off to Russia,” says Kate whose average time for a sprint triathlon is between an hour and 10 minutes and an hour and 20 minutes depending on the course.
She says she is looking forward to the Sprint Distance Triathlon European Championships, which take place in Kazan in July, but the logistics are giving her a bit of a headache.
“My bike has to travel ahead of me. I’ve got to put in a box on a plane and hope it arrives safely and goes back to together again at the other end,” explains Kate.
“It’s definitely a worry because it’s out of my control. When I went to Glasgow I had to buy a ticket for my bike so it could travel with me which was complicated enough.”
Her age group for competitions is 35-39 and she says it’s always a good race.
“It’s always nerve-wracking to see who is in your event. There are some fast women out there in my age group.
“A lot of the female athletes are getting stronger as they get older because they’ve had children and they’ve got the stamina.
“It’s really competitive but it’s it not in a nasty way,” says Kate, who also competes in the short sprint triathlon which involves a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run.
“If someone gets a flat tyre the others don’t just think ‘that’s one out of the race’, they help.”
Her most memorable moments include her the first race she won which was the Birmingham Sprint Triathlon in 2017.
“With the Olympic distance it’s all about endurance and with the sprint it’s about the time. I was the first woman to finish, I couldn’t believe it, I was really chuffed.
“Another memorable one was the Aquathlon European Championships in Ibiza and they took the athletes out 1,000m into the Mediterranean on a party boat.
“They were playing the most eclectic selection of songs like The Drunken Sailor, SpongeBob SquarePants and the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. We then jumped one by one off a platform and into the sea. It was really bizarre,” says Kate.
There have been some challenges along the way particularly with the open water swimming.
“I had never swam in open water so at first I really panicked. It’s the shock of the cold water and the feeling of being restricted in a wetsuit.
“I’ve got over that now and found it’s good to think about something else like what I’m having for dinner rather than being in the water,” says Kate, who trains at Netherton Reservoir.
Balancing her time between looking after her young daughter, her job as a supply teacher and training is a big commitment.
In an ideal week Kate who has also recently qualified for this year’s Aquathlon World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain and the European Championships in Transylvania, hopes to complete three hour-long swims, five hours of cycling and two and a half hours of running.
“The training is quite intense and you don’t have to do this much to compete in these events but this is what works for me. I don’t always manage it because I have other priorities and so I don’t beat myself up,” she says.
Her biggest fan is her seven-year-old daughter Eliza, who is keen to follow in her footsteps.
“It’s nice to be a strong role model for her and show her that I’m not just a mum or a teacher. She’s a big supporter and says to me ‘mummy give it all you’ve got’. When I’m flagging at the end of the run, thinking of that keeps me going,” says Kate.
- Anyone who would like to sponsor Kate can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org