Drexel mathematics major Alaina Zaki was the first place winner for her age group at the fifth annual Philadelphia Women’s Triathlon on Sunday, July 10. Zaki placed first out of 19 contestants for her age group of 20 to 24 and was 22nd overall out of 723 contestants.
The triathlon featured a 300-meter swim in Kelly Pool, a nine-mile bike on closed roads and a 5 km run through West Fairmount Park. The Women’s Triathlon is the only all-women triathlon in Pennsylvania and includes over 1,300 athletes from across the state.
This was Zaki’s first time competing in the Philadelphia Women’s Triathlon and her first time competing in any triathlon.
“I chose this race because I really liked the idea of the race being all women and because it was right here in Philly. So it felt like it would be a welcoming and supportive environment for my first race,” said Zaki.
Zaki’s finish time for the triathlon was 1:03:53. In preparation for the race, Zaki began training back in February and increased her training consistency as the triathlon grew closer.
“Starting in April I would try to train around four times a week, working around my co-op and social schedule as much as I could,” said Zaki.
Though Zaki is not a member of any sports teams at Drexel, she swam competitively in the past and has previously participated in a few 5 km races.
“This was my first what I would consider a ‘serious’ race, and my first time competing in an event completely on my own without a team,” Zaki said.
Placing first in her age group is motivating to Zaki, and she hopes to continue participating in similar events in the future and working on her abilities.
“I had no intention of doing this at all so it was a really nice surprise and source of validation that hard work and consistent training pays off. I obviously set my goal paces for the race and felt confident that I could make and even exceed them, but I had no idea meeting these goals would lead me to win my age group,” said Zaki. “Winning my age group made me feel confident that getting into the sport of triathlons is a good choice for me right now and I’m excited to see where this sport takes me.”
This year, Zaki participated in the sprint distance run, which is the race usually recommended to beginners in the field. Next summer, Zaki hopes to participate in the next level above the spring, which is the olympic distance race and consists of an approximately 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike and a 10 km run.
“I’m also thinking of joining a local tri club to find a core group to train and compete with, so I’m really excited about that too,” added Zaki. “I might come back and sign up for the Philly Women’s Tri again next year just because the whole race environment was truly unbeatable.”