Going to the toilet the night after was another ordeal for Peiner triathlete Niklas Arndt. “They don’t have a high senior’s toilet in the hotel. Sitting down is then again like a really deep squat,” explains the 47-year-old. Why was that so painful? The day before, Niklas Arndt had mastered the toughest distance that triathlon sport has to offer. In 9 hours 38 minutes and 40 seconds he swam 3.8 kilometers in Estonia’s capital Tallinn, cycled 180 kilometers and ran a full marathon of 42.195 kilometers. For the man from Stederdorf, a lifelong dream “that I’ve had for 30 years” came true: He qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii on October 9th.
Three years ago, Niklas Arndt finally flipped the switch and approached his project with even more dedication. At that time he accompanied his good friend Patrick Harms to Hawaii, who had qualified for the World Cup there. “From then on I took a trainer,” says Arndt. “And that was the key. It’s not just about exercising a lot. But to fully utilize the time budget that you have.”
For the Stederdorf family man, that’s an average of 15 hours a week. Arndt’s trainer always keeps an eye on his protégé’s performance and always adapts the training to his needs. “He has a lot of experience, is an ex-professional himself and has been to Hawaii eight times. He doesn’t just train amateurs like me, but also real full professionals,” explains the 47-year-old, for whom the World Cup qualification was finally successful at the fourth attempt.
He topped his best time from three years ago when he narrowly missed qualifying for Hawaii in Hamburg. “The time from back then wouldn’t have been enough for me this time either,” says Niklas Arndt. Depending on the field of participants, the organizer will allocate starting places for the World Championship. With around 200 starters in Arndt’s age group M45, the first nine finishers were happy – the man from Stederdorf defied the catastrophic weather conditions and finished seventh.
“When I came out of the water, we had driving rain. Many were freezing and wearing jackets or stopped running. In addition, there were no spectators. So there is no support that pushes you forward. You only really become aware of that during the race,” says Niklas Arndt, who was satisfied with his performance in the three sub-disciplines. When swimming, he actually wanted to be four minutes faster. “But it was a turbulent sea. It’s difficult when a wave hits your face with every puff. For every meter forward, it feels like half a meter backwards.”
The man from Stederdorf is particularly proud of his switch to cycling and running shoes. “I made up four places in each transition zone alone,” says the 47-year-old. He came out 33rd in his age group, kicked his way up to 13th and caught up with the next six athletes on the run. “It was a continuous journey forward,” explains Niklas Arndt, who could never be sure of the athletes who surrounded him, but could never be sure whether they were active in his age group and how many laps they had already run or driven. “There was a rolling start system. Five people went onto the track every ten seconds.”
After the race, Niklas Arndt was not the only one who was overjoyed. Numerous friends, sports and work colleagues shared the excitement in a live ticker, and they all commented on Niklas Arndt’s race together in the chat. “I always read it all the day after,” explains the man from Stederdorf and laughs. A friend with whom Arndt ran his first marathon wrote: “I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes.”
It’s a great feeling, explains Arndt, who invests a lot. “I don’t really have two days in a row without sport.” In preparation for the World Championships, which will take place in Hawaii on October 9, he will still take a short break. “Then my vacation is coming up and then my family is the number 1 priority,” explains Arndt, who then has five weeks to prepare. “The world champion won’t come from Peine, but I definitely want to finish the race healthy,” says Niklas Arndt, who already has his next goal in mind.