UC Berkeley junior Anna Kudej placed 10th in the women’s age group of 20-24 years old at the ITU Triathlon Age Group Sprint World Championships that took place Aug. 29 in Edmonton, Alberta.
That morning, Kudej woke up at 4:30 a.m. to get ready for her 7 a.m. race.
“At this point, you are asking yourself why you do this sport. But then again, the feeling you get when the announcer is about to start your wave, the complete silence that ensues for those few seconds before the horn goes off and the rush of adrenaline that shoots through your body as you begin your day on the course … that makes it all worth it,” Kudej said.
After completing a 750-meter swim and a 19.74-mile bike ride, Kudej concluded the race with a 5-kilometer run on a trail that reminded her of the ones she used to run at home in Norwich, Connecticut.
“The finish was ‘epic,’ the term the event used heavily throughout the weekend. I was handed an American flag by the Team USA coach and kicked in as hard as I could onto the famous blue ITU carpet,” Kudej said.
Kudej finished with a time of 1:16:52.
Kudej, who is double majoring in society and the environment and Spanish, spent her summer in Berkeley working out 15 to 20 hours every week, alternating her workouts between swim sets, bike rides and runs.
Her journey with triathlon began in fall 2012, when she arrived at UC Berkeley and joined the Cal Triathlon team. After playing basketball, swimming and running track in high school, she knew she needed a structured way to stay active in college. She has now completed 16 triathlons.
Although biking was new to her when she began her training, it is now her favorite sport of the three.
“I learned to love biking for the adventure it provided, for its ability to introduce me to areas of the bay that I would have otherwise not discovered, for the rush you get when you are descending down a big hill, for the freedom I feel in being able to take my bike and just go!” Kudej said.
She is studying abroad in Spain this semester but will continue to train on her own. Kudej already has plans to race next spring and to continue training for the rest of her time at UC Berkeley.
“Triathlon is my passion,” Kudej said. “It has given me my best friends, my mentors, my health and the ability to constantly improve.”