The flying Dutchwoman Yvonne Van Vlerken

We catch up with Yvonne Van Vlerken after she races to another sub-9 hour performance and the European title at Challenge Almere.

| September 18, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Charlie Crowhurst | Getty Images You just had your 13th sub-9 hour race at Challenge Almere. Can you tell us a bit about the race?

Yvonne Van Vlerken: "Special." That's the word that pops up, Almere is the oldest in Europe. Almere is where all my dreams of racing long course started. From 2000 on I have been on the course every year, watching the event and these amazing athletes. Every single year I would ask my coach, Frank Senders (who, most of the time, was there as well), if I could race there next year. I would get the same answer every year: " No, Yvonne, you are not ready." Almere is where all the dreams started. I raced there for the first time in 2007 and won in 8:57, one minute shy of the course record. In 2017 I raced again, a whole different athlete, a whole different person. So much has happened and the race was so emotional for me, I enjoyed it in a very special way. I love racing in the Netherlands and, as it's very rare that I have the chance to do that, I want to perform on my best. I'm so happy that I did exactly that!

You've been racing so fast for over a decade now. What's the key to your longevity in the sport?

Joy, happynes and balance. Being thankful for the little things and, most of all, listening to my body very, very closely. Trying to do every single thing correct every day, every moment.

You have another full-distance race coming up at the end of the month. Is it a challenge to recover and get ready for another full so soon?

Yes, I totally love this challenge, I tend to recover very fast and three weeks between two fulls is not a problem. But, again, I have to do every single thing correct and listen to my body even more than normal. It means I sleep a ton and don't train a lot, do everything I can to speed up my recovery with my nutrition, spoiling myself with Sauna and massage..(Now you know why I race so much - I love spoiling myself.)

You recently signed on with Huub wetsuits - what have you enjoyed about the suits so far?

The Huub wetsuit is just awesome in so many ways. I'm swimming PB’s in this suit in training and in all the races that I have done with the suit. It's the first suit that looks great on me and in which I don’t look like a sausage. I have less problems with breathing, I'm quicker in and out of the suit. It's light to carry around and travel with, too. I just want to try to improve on my weakest discipline and my gut feeling tells me Huub is the right partner to do so.

You decided not to race in Kona this year. Will you miss not competing on the Big Island?

No, not at all. I've raced there so many times, mentally I just can't give it the attention that it needs, I race a lot as I just love it and I'm not willing to sacrifice that much time, training and focus on this one event anymore. To be very honest I'm very proud of my second place in Kona in 2008 and I'm at peace with that being my best result on the island.

There are to many amazing events, like Challenge Almere Amsterdam, which I want to enjoy and embrace. It's time to look further than Kona, I don't know how many years I have left in the sport and I want to enjoy every single minute of it.