Ride Life: Virginia Berasategui

Ride Life: Triathlete Virginia Berasategui

20 október 2011

Like most Ironman athletes, Virginia Berasategui has experienced ups and downs over the course of her triathlon career. But even through injuries, crashes and other challenges, Virginia, a proud Basque citizen who lives in Bilbao, Spain, is in rare company with four top-10 finishes in the past four Ironman World Championships.

Virginia’s latest finish at the legendary Hawaii event, a gutsy 10th place on October 8, was her most difficult. But those who watched her finish that race—or any other for that matter—know one thing: She did it with a smile.

The heat, the elements and the fierce competition of Ironman Hawaii, held in Kona every October, make it the primary measuring stick among Ironman-distance triathletes. And for Virginia, a veteran who won four ITU World Championships before turning her attention to Ironman, Kona really is the ultimate proving grounds.

Virginia teamed up with Giant before the start of the 2011 season. Throughout the year, she worked with Giant Technical Manager Andy Wollny to gain every advantage with her bike. Two weeks ago Andy met Virginia in Hawaii with a special package: her new race bike, a pre-production version of the women’s 2012 Liv/giant Trinity Composite W.

“Since I started riding Giant I have had the best results on my bike,” Virginia said before the race. “Giant is constantly working on and developing new technologies to give athletes an edge. The new Trinity Composite W is everything I need.”

With a nagging foot injury affecting her training this year, Virginia knew she had her work cut out for her at Kona. But she went into the race with a positive attitude.

“From the start of the race, I felt really comfortable,” she said. “I had a good swim, and I felt great on the bike.”

But the run proved difficult. “The whole time I was too scared to go too fast because of my foot,” she said.

It wasn’t so much the pain, but the lack of intense training leading up to the event. The injury, called Morton’s Neuroma, prevented Virginia from training at normal capacity—which led to a lack of strength at the end of the run.

“It’s difficult because when I train too much the pain comes back,” Virginia said. “But in races I try to just push through, not listening to the pain.”

So she gritted her teeth. She was still right there among the world’s best Ironman athletes in the final miles of the intense nine-plus hour effort.

“The hardest part was after the energy lab,” she said. “I felt like I had no strength. A competitor behind me was pushing hard to catch me but my goal was to keep my pace and finish top-10. And I did!”

That’s Virginia. Positive. Smiling through the pain.

“This was a very difficult season,” she said. “With the injury and some illness, I almost didn’t qualify for Hawaii.”

“But now that I did it, and I finished in the top-10, I’m glad about those problems. Because they made me stronger.”