A powerful effort for a personal best

There’s been a bit of a celebration at the SES office with the news that our admin support superstar Stephanie Rattray came away with two gold medals in the New Zealand Para Cycling Championships in April.

Smashing your personal best is no mean feat at the best of times in cycling races. Beating it by a full five and a bit minutes is a massive accomplishment!

This was Stephanie’s result for the 16km Time Trial in the women’s paracycling Trike classification at the NZ Age Group Nationals 2023 in Timaru recently. It was an amazing time that also saw her take first place in the division. Her previous time was set just two years earlier, and beating it was an unexpected bonus.

“I was confident in my ability to race my way through the time trail, but I did not expect to personal best on it – let alone beating my previous record by 5 minutes and 5 seconds,” she says. “My original goal was just to finish the race in one piece, going as fast as I could without crashing!”

Stephanie also took gold in her first 20km Road Race, which she completed in 1 hour and 3 minutes. The conditions were great for a strong race.

“The Road Race was a circuit course on country roads, with two loops and three small hills to ride over. The weather was perfect, bright, and sunny, with no wind or rain in sight,” she says.

Stephanie’s journey to the big event in Timaru started back in 2017 when she completed the running leg of Challenge Wanaka Half IronMan as a walker. With limited coordination and balance on her right side, she was looking for a new challenge.

After attending a Paralympics New Zealand ‘Have a go’ cycling day in late 2017 she decided to purchase her own trike, and joined the Canterbury Time Trial Association cycling club the following year.

“I have been doing time trials with the cycling club since October 2018, mainly just for fun and the experience. The Age Group Nationals 2023 in Timaru was my first major cycling competition and first ever road race,” she says.

Despite recovering from a concussion, which limited her ability to train on the road for the past year and a half previously, Stephanie reportedly felt just “a bit puffed” at the finish line. The hours at the gym each week paid off.

“My legs felt good after the Road Race. Both were amazing experiences and I learned plenty for next time too.”

Next on the agenda is to compete in the Age Groups Nationals in 2024, and to continue riding and training in Christchurch with her mum Sue as her dedicated co-pilot. She’s looking forward to going faster still, and is thankful for the backing from friends, family and work.

“I want to say a massive thank you for the support from everyone at SES, your enthusiasm is much appreciated!”