Professional cross triathlete Pavlina Vargova (20) from the Czech Republic is heading to Hawaii to take part in the World Championships in the XTERRA (Triathlon) race, which includes swimming, mountain biking, and trail running. The former swimmer turned into a triathlete after finding swimming too monotonous. She made a discipline switch one more time after she discovered mountain biking. “Unlike road cycling, this was, finally, the real fun,” Pavlina says. The Czech Lawi team member and last year’s World Junior Champion of the championship of Denmark’s Fyn island describes how demanding the cross triathlon is in short stories from the race track.

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The most painful day of my career was…

… when I had to give up a promising race because of tyre failure. It happened during this June’s European Championship of XTERRA in Târgu Mureș in Romania. I was holding the fifth position while my rear tyre hit a piece of broken glass and exploded. The scene of a ripped tyre and white sealant splashing all around ensured me instantly that, for me, the race was over.

The biggest success was…

… last year when I won the World Junior Championship on the island of Fyn in Denmark. The success helped me to gain new sponsors, get a huge grant from the Region of Pilsen where I come from, and to make an agreement with the phenomenal Czech triathlete Helena Karásková who offered to become my new coach. She belongs to the best triathletes in the world and has so much to teach me.

The strictest coach of my life was…

… the former Czech triathlete Jan Řehula at a training camp in Italy. I was the only girl around so I had to share the lad’s training programme, comprising of 8 km of intense run in the morning, 3,5 hours of cycling in the afternoon and up to 3,5 km of swimming in the evening. Every night I went to bed completely exhausted.

The most horrible weather I remember was…

… in Scanno, Italy. The temperature attacked 35°C and there was nowhere to hide. The race was held in the historical centre with old rocky buildings glowing with accumulated heat. Many of my rivals collapsed because of hyperthermia and gave up. I took two water bottles with me on the bike and I took one spare bottle for the run stage, which proved to be my rescue from dehydration.

The scariest downhill section…

… I’ve ever experienced was at the Czech XC cup course in Touškov. The Czech MTB freerider Richard Gasperotti took me there to improve my technical skills and persuaded me to jump off the drop made of big rocks. In the beginning, it was super scary but with the help of the trainer, I realised that the most horrifying obstruction was hidden deep in my head. Once I released the mental block, I founded jumping way easier.

The worst crash I had…

… was about four years ago when a driver passed me just to bring the car to an abrupt halt at the crosswalk. I didn’t have any choice but to crash into the car’s trunk. My bike was completely broken, my right shoulder dislocated, and the helmet smashed. Without the helmet, I would hardly walk away.

The tightest loss was…

… at the European Championship in Ibiza where I ended up second after swimming and got to the first position at the cycling section. The run course led across a rocky terrain where I struggled because of extreme heat. Just 200 m before the finish line, I was overtaken by Italian Marta Menditto, ending beaten at the second place. Even this is a part of the sport.

The strongest rival is…

… the same Marta Menditto. She is short, skinny, and agile. Even though she’s not the best swimmer and usually gets out the water behind me, she can slowly get through and forward while cycling and running. She’s tough but we talk to each other normally and I regard her more friend than a foe.

The hardest decision I made…

… was when I had to choose between the classic triathlon, which is an Olympic discipline and XTERRA. In the end, I opted for XTERRA because mountain biking is much more fun.

You can follow Pavlina on her site or on social media.

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