Sarissa de Vries nutrition struggles: “I found myself on the side of the road again”

Sarissa de Vries during the bike leg of Ironman South Africa. (Photo: Ingo Kutsche)

“Full focus on the road ahead.” Sarissa de Vries had to overcome a big setback after she lost her second place in the final 10 km of Ironman South Africa on Apr. 3. She needed some time to process this disappointment, De Vries explains: “I took some time to let the dust settle and recover. I am now looking forward to what’s to come, but I still wanted to give a little update about what happened in South Africa for who is interested.”

The first part of the race went really well”, she takes us back to Apr. 3. “About four hours into the bike leg, I noticed I was starting to feel nauseous, despite riding more conservatively and eating fewer carbs per hour than my previous races. At the start of the run, I felt like my stomach was full and not letting anything pass on to my gut. I decided to run at an easy pace from the start and not take any more fluids and nutrition in the hope that my stomach would settle.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. “At 30 km into the run, I was still in second place, but the nausea got worse”, De Vries continues. “My arms and face started tingling, I started to see blurry, and the next moment I found myself on the ground on the side of the road and throwing up again.”

De Vries has already had her fair share of stomach problems during races. During Challenge Almere-Amsterdam 2019 she lost the win during the marathon due to similar issues and even when she ended up becoming World Champion at Challenge Almere-Amsterdam 2021, she struggled with stomach problems. “I was really disappointed that despite the efforts of working on an improved nutrition plan and lots of practice with nutrition, it hadn’t paid off. At the moment, we are trying to figure out what causes the problems. In the meantime, I am getting back into training and – for now – I focus on Middle-Distance triathlons.”