Usti nad Labem
Age / DOB
Nov 07 1984
Trying to get the most out of limited training time is a challenge triathletes all over the world face every day.
And there can’t be many more inspiring role models than Radka Kahlefeldt, who has moved to another level since the arrival of daughter Ruby in January 2018.
Just 11 weeks after giving birth to her first child, she was back to middle-distance winning ways and has since enjoyed the most successful phase yet of a win-laden career.
Her route into the sport underlined her uncanny ability to squeeze as much as possible into the time available.
Originally she wanted to be a professional tennis player (Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi were her heroes growing up), before realising that her strengths lay elsewhere.
She was then able to excel at both cross-country skiing (representing the Czech Republic) and triathlon.
But eventually came the point, aged 18, where she had to pick one or the other, and she’s never looked back.
“I now chase the summer all around the world as opposed to chasing snow, so I think it was a good choice,” she says.
Early on Radka focused on both duathlon (she was European Champion in 2008) as well as shorter distance triathlons on the ITU circuit, while also fitting in a Masters degree in sports science and physical education.
The highlight though was getting to the Olympics in London in 2012 and she recounts: “It was an amazing experience and such a special Games, it’s something I’ll never forget”.
The perfect match
Radka, or Rads as she’s also known, was 15 when she joined her first triathlon club and started in sprint distances, before gradually working her way up to Olympic distance.
As her swimming improved she made huge strides and, just as she had in cross-country skiing she was soon representing her country.
After the 2012 Olympics though, her sights were set on non-drafting racing and longer distances.
Her middle-distance debut came at the end of 2012 and it was the following year, at a race in Australia, where she first met her now-husband Brad.
The Australian enjoyed a 20-year career in triathlon, including two Olympics (Beijing and London), a Commonwealth Games gold medal and three ITU World Championship podium places.
They married in 2016 and Brad (who has now retired and turned his attention to marathon running and coaching) is ideally placed to map out Radka’s training regime.
There was plenty of success before Ruby came along, including IRONMAN 70.3 wins at Putrajaya, Hefei and Subic Bay. But it is the run of results since the start of 2018 which has catapulted Radka into the top bracket of the sport.
It was just 11 weeks after giving birth (and after only two weeks of training) that she returned at 70.3 Davao in the Philippines. What a comeback it was.
Exactly a year and a week after her previous IRONMAN race (when she was runner-up at 70.3 Taiwan), she led from start to finish to dominate the field.
She was quickest in both the swim and on the bike (and third-best in the half marathon), crossing the line with an advantage of more than 11 minutes on the rest of the field.
She repeated the trick at 70.3 Vietnam and 70.3 Cebu and then went on to notch her best result yet at the 70.3 World Championship with a fifth place.
The end-of-year sequence then rounded out an unforgettable 12 months in style.
First up was the Challenge Asia Pacific Championship where Radka again left her rivals trailing right from the off. By the finish, she’d extended her lead to 10 minutes and more from fellow ‘supermums’ Mirinda Carfrae and Beth McKenzie.
The following weekend Rads was in complete control again at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney. Then after making the short hop to New Zealand, she collected another first place at 70.3 Taupo. That came despite not feeling 100 per cent on the bike.
No wonder she called 2018 “the best year of my life” as she ended it as the dominant force at half distance.
That momentum continued into 2019, with early-season successes at 70.3 Geelong and Davao (again).
The level of consistency was incredible as she managed to cover both IRONMAN and Challenge events, with her 13 races producing seven wins and 11 podiums.
With multiple Challenge wins and a second place at The Championship Challenge Samorin, she ran away with the Challenge Family World Bonus and a top prize of $30,000.
Having wrapped things up in Europe it was back to the southern hemisphere, with 2020 starting in now-familiar style with another success at Challenge Wanaka, for another Asia Pacific Championship title.
Staying in the land of the long white cloud, she also made the significant move into full-distance racing with a debut at IRONMAN New Zealand. Illness meant she only got as far as the bike ride, but it is surely only a matter of time before she’s challenging for podiums in that sphere.
An inspirational story
Combining full and half-distance races will add another layer to the training puzzle, but if anyone can make it work it is Radka and Brad Kahlefeldt.
It has been quite an achievement by Radka to reach new heights, while always putting Ruby first. She gives lots of the credit to Brad, with the pair of them aiming to be as time-efficient as possible. Their planning includes around 20 hours a week of carefully-tailored training.
“It wouldn’t be possible without Brad, he understands everything. You set your priorities: family first then triathlon.”
Asked for her favourite piece of training advice, it had to come from her husband, who told her: “You can’t feel great in training every day. Just do it and don’t overthink it”.
By necessity, much of the training is done early, indoors and mostly alone. The majority of it is high-quality and intense, all about maximising the available time.
It is clearly a formula which pays dividends, and Radka is keen to stress: “I hope I can inspire all the mums that you can still do whatever you want”.