Kate Waugh couldn’t get much closer to her home when she lines-up on the start line at AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds this weekend and her first experience of a home international race is one she’s relishing with just over a few days to go.
Waugh, who was born in Newcastle, grew-up in the north east but made the move to Leeds when she was 18 to continue her triathlon development at Leeds Triathlon Centre, alongside studying psychology at the University of Leeds.
With AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series just around the corner, both geographically and on the calendar for Waugh, the 23-year-old is looking forward to having the support of the home crowd when she competes in Roundhay Park on Saturday 11 June.
“I think the fact that I know all my friends and family will be in the crowd is really special to me, it doesn’t happen very often, so I’m really excited about that,” Waugh commented. “I know there’s going to be a lot of people we know in the crowd, we know the course, we know the area, so I’m hoping to use that to my advantage and just enjoy the race. I’ve always wanted to do this race.
“When you see familiar faces in the crowd it’s always reassuring and the fact that there will be so many of us who train everyday alongside each other racing together is pretty cool and to literally be two miles away from home is really cool as well.
“I’m usually just head down in the race, but it’s always great to hear the support as it’s more voices I hear when racing. I don’t often have my parents at a race so I’m really excited to have my mum coming to the race, my dad can’t make it, and some friends there shouting as well.
“I think it’s going to be really special, and it will be nice to take it all in. I think I will be really nervous, but it’s also quite a unique opportunity to have a race so close to home, so I want to make the most of that.”
This year is Waugh’s first time competing at a World Triathlon Championship Series race in Leeds, but she has raced at a WTCS event before, finishing ninth on her debut in Hamburg last September.
Alongside her home race in Leeds, World Triathlon Championship Series Hamburg was another event she wanted to tick off.
“I was so excited because I had always watched it on TV,” Waugh shared. “It was always a race which I was really captivated by because there always looked like there were really big crowds there. I always got around the Hamburg race and I was always really excited to watch that one so to actually do that as my debut I was really excited about.
“I had been injured earlier in the year and I had wanted to start with Leeds last year, but it just wasn’t the right time, so when Hamburg came as an opportunity I was really excited. I think that actually helped me manage my nerves as well because it was my first WTCS, I didn’t put any expectation on the race or the result, I just enjoyed it and I was really proud of the performance I put together.”
Waugh’s passion for swim, bike, run goes back to her early years when she would do the three sports separately. After taking part in her first triathlon, Waugh went on to combine swim, bike, run leading to her training within the city of Leeds and competing all around the world.
“I did my first triathlon when I was about eight, I really enjoyed it, I got a bug for it and just kept going. The races got more competitive, they increased in levels over the years and now I’m here,” Waugh reflected.
“I get bored quite easily, so I just need something different every day to keep me stimulated and enjoying things, so never getting bored of training is quite a big thing for me. It’s always a bit different, you’re never just following a black line or just running, it’s always something different and that’s what I love about it.
“I always had Leeds on my radar because I obviously grew up racing against people like Sian [Rainsley], training with the lads on training camps. I kind of knew they had all come to Leeds and that there was a good group here. It’s also got a really good university, so they combine quite well to feel like a great place to train. It’s almost not too far from home.
"Obviously, it was really good to join a really solid training group. It sets the standard every day in training knowing that you’re training with some of the strongest girls in the world. I think we train really well together, there’s always a good atmosphere in training environments so it works really well. You can enjoy it but also know you are getting good work done with a really solid group of people.”
AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds provides the opportunity to see the best athletes from around the world live in Roundhay Park.
The park will be open to spectators on both days, with the best views available from the grandstand overlooking transition and the finish line for both the individual and mixed relay racing.
Secure your grandstand seats here: https://leeds.triathlon.org/event_information/spectators/