TRI-STORIES : Katherine Verwaerde

Portrait of the triathlete Katherine Verwaerde Alpe d'Huez Triathlon

Our triathletes portraits series continues. This time, Katherine Verwaerde (Team Verdon Oxygene) is the one. We are very happy to introduce this passionate and committed athlete.

Who is Katherine Verwaerde ?

I am native of the North of France, but I arrived in the Alpes de Haute-Provence 16 years ago with my three daughters. I am an instructor for technical degrees, in commercial and business management specifically. I have recently settled down near Avignon where I work in a new centre. In parallel, I'm also involved in Verdon Oxygène, the association that manages the organization of the triathlon Natureman (Oct. 7th and (8th). I help with the management of the accounts, the secretarial tasks and the public subsidies requests. The eco-responsibility of the race means a lot to me. And naturally I am a volunteer during the week of the event, in charge of the running course and the registrations.

What is your sports history? What kind of triathlete are you?

Originally, I am not a sportswoman! I just used to run a little. Then in 2009, my boyfriend was triathlete and urged me to try some triathlon. But I had never swum or cycled before! Of my first years in the Manosque Team, I remember going out of the water always on the last position. During this period, I mainly participated in sprint events. Then I decided to run the short distance of Embrun. I trained more seriously and it was really the key; I realized my first good swim after three years of practice! Since then, I ran numerous long distance triathlons. In August 2014, I finished my first Ironman, in Vichy. I try generally to settle a big objective every two years.

"I find it very interesting to discover our sport through different perspectives."

Today, you are much more than a simple triathlete, you are a member of the Natureman Organization but you also are a FFTRI referee. This social aspect of the Triathlon is important for you?

Yes of course. But on top of this, I find it very interesting to discover our sport through different perspectives. It brings me a lot. A few years ago, I met Eric Amatteis, the Natureman director, on a running race in Manosque. I proposed myself as volunteer, then little by little I took responsibilities. I took advantage of it to participate to my first triathlon long distance during the first edition of the Natureman. I like the atmosphere of the Triathlon generally, and I wanted to go a little farther then. I became a referee for the League Cote d'Azur. I had the chance to cover events such as Nice Ironman or Embrunman. In 2017, I'll prepare to be a Main Referee, so I'll follow a Main Referee all the season to learn the job. I believe that it is positive when the referees are also triathletes, it facilitates the understanding of certain situations.

What is your history(story) with the triathlon Alpe d'Huez EDF?

Before the 2016 edition, I had already participated 3 times to Alpe d'Huez Short Distance. I like to go there and I always enjoyed this race. We also come to promote Natureman with a stand in the Expo, so I can join the useful for the pleasant. But last year, when I was looking for an objective, I said to myself that it was time to test the long distance race.

What was your objective in 2016?

I hoped to achieve the race between 9h30 and 10h30, what showed to be completely unaffordable for me. I needed 10h48 to finish it and I spent 7h21 on the bike! I think I really missed training.

How did you live this long day?

To begin, I missed the start! I left late since the bank... But finally I swam pretty well, without getting too much cold. On the bike everything went well fine until... Alpe d'Huez 21 bends. The climb has been a real ordeal (1h54 of effort). I completely exploded. Even if I did not walked as other participants I saw, the ascent seemed to me endless. I was discouraged and by entering Alpe d'Huez, even if I was still in the cutt-off, It was clear for me that I was going to give up. But before reaching the transition park, my parents waited for me! They made me the surprise. Three hours of driving to come to support me! I burst into tears under the emotion. Of course I started the half marathon, crying in every lap when meeting my parents. Curiously, the running went well and I didn't suffer too much. Naturally, I also lived a beautiful moment on the finish line, with the encouragements of Hervé (note: the speaker), of my family and my friends.

"There is a very strong emotion to live on the finishing line of the Triathlon EDF Alpe d'Huez."

Have you an advice for the triathletes who want to defy the Triathlon EDF Alpe d'Huez Long Distance?

Ride your bike and go for hills, hills and more hills! The running course doesn't seem very difficult to me, even with the altitude, but the bike can be a nightmare if you didn't train enough

What are your objectives in 2017?

It will be a less intense year as triathlete. I am focusing on the organization of the Natureman and in my referee formation. But I planned to participate to the SwimRun of Beaulieu-sur-Mer with a friend.

If you had to summarize the race in 1 word...

POWERFUL. There is a very strong emotion to live on the finishing line of the Triathlon EDF Alpe d'Huez.