Race mill PassPort Series: with Ariana Khu

Collegiate Triathlete at University of Texas at Austin

Our Passport Series looks to feature athletes as they travel to competitions.  Highlighting the complexities, logistics, hardships and fun inherent in traveling with all of your gear.  This installment is with Triathlete Ariana Khu of University of Texas at Austin as she sets her sights on USAT Collegiate Nationals in April. 

We hope you enjoy!

Amarillo, TX


RM:  What is the farthest you have traveled for an event?
The furthest race I've ever done from my hometown was my first triathlon in Amesbury, Massachusetts called Dam Triathlon. I had just finished my sophomore year of high school, and I was visiting family in Hyannis, MA. I had my heart set on racing my first triathlon that summer, and I couldn't find one near Amarillo. I decided to race while on vacation visiting my family, and managed to convince my dad to drive me three hours from our hotel in Hyannis to the race course in Amesbury. I rented a road bike to use for the race, and since I'd done most of my training on a mountain bike, I felt like I flew through that bike course. I didn't have a tri kit, so I raced in my swimsuit and tri shorts. I also didn't have a coach at the time, and I had almost no cycling experience outside of mountain biking. I must have done something right though, because I managed to get second in my age group and won a beer mug (4 years later and I'm still not old enough to use that mug for its designated purpose...). That race is one of the reasons I fell in love with this sport.

I'm racing in Cebu City in the Philippines this summer (again, racing and visiting family), so that will be the furthest I've ever traveled for a race! I cannot wait for that experience.

RM:  How does your packing change for destination events?
The largest factor I take into consideration when packing for a destination race is the weather. I'm always prepared to wait in the cold, rain, heat, or wind on race morning before my wave. For example, I packed 4 different pre-race outfits for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. It seems like I always overpack for races that require air travel. Even if I'm only gone for three days, I'll always have a medium-sized duffle bag and my transition bag in addition to my bike. If I'm not over-prepared, I get too anxious before my race.

RM:  What is your favorite destination event? Why?
The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon was definitely my favorite destination race. Qualifying for that race was a huge surprise for me. I dropped a lot of time in the Olympic distance during my 2015 season, and I won the 24-under women's division at the Kemah triathlon, which was one of the three international qualifying races for Alcatraz. The entire Escape from Alcatraz triathlon was surreal. I jumped off the start boat five minutes behind Andy Potts, Eric Langstrom, Mirinda Carfrae, and other pros that I had only seen compete on television. Ocean swims are my absolute favorite type of swims, and the San Francisco bay is always unpredictable and exciting. The bike was incredible with some awesome descents and climbs. The sand ladder on the run was no joke, but it made the race that much more enjoyable.

I also qualified and raced in Chicago in September for the 2015 ITU AG World Championships. I had a fantastic experience there, but I unfortunately didn't get to stay and fully experience since Chicago since the race was during the school year.

RM:  Sponsors? Who are they and how do they help with destinations events?
My dad is my biggest supporter! He comps all my races and does everything he can to make it to all my races. I would not have progressed in triathlon without his support.

RM:  What is the toughest destination event you have participated in? Why?
The toughest destination race I've ever done was in Stamford, Connecticut. It's called the KIT IC Triathlon, and it was my first Olympic distance race. The course definitely wasn't super challenging. However, it was the first time I had run a full 10K off the bike. My timing chip fell off during the swim, and I got a little discouraged with a set-back so early on. I was just happy I was able to finish under 3 hours and run at a 10:00/mile pace without stopping. I placed first in my age group (16-19) because the only other 16-19 girl won overall. I started working with a coach four months before that race, and I honestly don't think I would have finished without his help. That race made me understand the importance of good coaching and consistency. 

RM:  Did anything get weird, odd or sketchy on that adventure?
I haven't encountered anything "sketchy" per say... but I did do a sprint triathlon outside of Roswell, NM called the Bottomless Triathlon (named after the Bottomless Lake State Park). I didn't see any aliens, but the the lake reeked of a sulfur-like smell and an eerie greenish tinge, and half of the roads on the bike course were old and poorly paved. It's a very small local race that's been around for over 30 years, and it's a really unique race. I heard they repaved the entire bike course, so I'm planning to go up and race there again one summer when I have a chance. 

RM:  Do you have a dream race you want to race in? What makes it so desirable?
Alcatraz was my dream race, and I was blessed enough that I had the opportunity to compete in it. I have always wanted to visit and race in New Zealand, so I suppose 70.3 Auckland is my new dream race. Every triathlon I have raced has been exciting. I think small races in remote areas that only attract 30-50 athletes are severely overlooked. Some of my best memories were made at races in tiny towns that few people have even heard of. No matter the quality of the course or size of the field, I always enjoy racing.

RM:  Training secrets for Destination Events? Care to share?
Definitely prepare for the type of climate you will be racing in. Before I moved to Austin, I raced in the Captex triathlon. My coach insisted I wear at least 5 layers of clothes to every run and bike practice because in Amarillo it was still below 40 degrees most mornings when I was doing my training. I hated it at the time, but it paid off during the race. Also, always pack food your body is familiar with when traveling to a race. If you're going out of state or out of the country, getting a solid pre-race dinner or snack to agree with your stomach is really important.

Thanks Ariana!  Best to you and the team!


RM:  Training Tracks: Favorite songs to train/race to?

1.9K 224

RaceMill Collegiate with Connor White


Directors Corner w/ Texas Tri's Kyle Polansky