University of Cape Town (UCT) Cycling Club’s Hayley Preen is headed to the XTERRA World Championships in Hawaii in October after an impressive qualifying win at the South African leg of the tournament last month.
Preen took the top spot among her female counterparts in the XTERRA SA Full race in Grabouw, said to be the largest XTERRA event in the world. On race day, Preen, a second-year mechanical engineering student in UCT’s Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment (EBE), participated in a 1.5 km swim, 28 km mountain bike ride and 12.5 km trail run.
She was the first woman to cross the finish line, automatically qualifying her for the global race – billed as the “worldʼs premier off-road triathlon” – on 27 October in Kapalua, on Maui’s north-west coast in Hawaii.
“I’ve always wanted to win, but never thought I would actually get there. It’s an incredible feeling and I am still on a high,” she said.
“I’ve always wanted to win, but never thought I would actually get there. It’s an incredible feeling and I am still on a high.”
While this year’s course was “a lot different” to last year, Preen clocked in at 2:52:40, 13 minutes faster than her finishing time in 2018.
Rigorous training programme
In spite of a tough swim leg, the end result was “gratifying”.
“Swimming is my weakest discipline and, of the three, my least favourite,” she said.
“It will always be my biggest challenge.”
In addition to qualifying for the big event in Hawaii, Preen was also selected to represent South Africa at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Cross Triathlon World Championships in Pontevedra in Spain next month.
In preparation, she has reinforced her already rigorous training programme. Currently, her main training area remains cycling and she’ll be among the riders at the upcoming Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday.
Running and more time at the pool will boost her training ahead of the big events.
Megan Anley, head of the club’s marketing portfolio, commended Preen on her achievement, saying “[she] never ceases to amaze us”.
“She handled the challenge like the pro that she is. This is a phenomenal achievement, Hayley, and we are so proud to call you one of us.”
“She handled the challenge like the pro that she is. This is a phenomenal achievement.”
Back at the club
The club had a bumper start to the year, Anley added.
A highlight was the cycling development programme introduced to pupils at Groenvlei High School in Lansdowne. Established in partnership with the Pedal Power Association’s Bike4All, the programme covers bike maintenance workshops and focuses on coaching children how to set their seat heights, the intricacies of changing a flat wheel and lubricating the chains.
“It’s been so much fun,” she said.
“We believe in the importance of paying it forward and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with this programme. The kids have enjoyed it and we have too.”
Other plans for 2019 involve setting up a tutoring programme at the school to support various learning areas, helping pupils to shape their future careers.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.