On Sunday, Sept. 18 in Cozumel, Mexico, Ceci Davis-Hayes ’11 won a bronze medal at the International Triathlon Union World Championships. The Olympic distance race included a 1500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run.
Although the competition was for non-professional triathletes, the qualification process was demanding. Davis-Hayes placed in the top 18 for her age division at the national championships last summer to secure a spot on the American team. Triathletes from 11 other countries also raced in the women’s 25-29 age division with Davis-Hayes.
“I loved competing for the U.S. and wearing the stars and stripes,” Davis-Hayes said. “The team had great camaraderie. Also, the country-versus-country competition felt like the Olympics.”
When racing, Davis-Hayes usually aims for place rather than time since variable conditions can affect times significantly. She mentioned that while the Mexican ocean current slowed her swimming and the heat made the run difficult, the flat bike along the coastline was ideal. Indeed, she was the only rider to break one hour.
Davis-Hayes needed the best cycling time because she only began swimming last year and considers it a weakness. After the swim, she placed 26th, seven minutes out from the lead, and reached fourth place with a 57:40 bike split. She passed one runner during the final portion of the race to earn a spot on the podium.
Winning a medal in such a competitive race requires significant training, and Davis-Hayes is dedicated to exercise. However, she is also a medical student at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Consequently, she must balance a packed schedule, something she exceled at when at Williams.
“My time at Williams prepared me well for juggling many balls,” Davis-Hayes said. “Williams students who did well in four classes, cooked for Log Lunch and played in the handbell choir, for instance, showed me that you can do it all.”
Davis-Hayes fondly remembers the College.
“I appreciated Williams for the neat students who were happy about life, the beautiful surroundings, the interesting history and all the inspiring professors,” Davis-Hayes said.
As a three-season varsity athlete in cross country and track and field at the College, Davis-Hayes knew how to persevere and overcome injuries. Women’s Cross Country Head Coach Pete Farwell acknowledged that her collegiate performance was up and down due to knee and lower leg problems. Davis-Hayes was often cross training with the bike.
“[Despite setbacks due to injury], she kept positive and focused and was good at cross training,” Coach Farwell said.
“When one door closes, another opens,” Davis-Hayes said. She is now a registered professional cyclist on Strava, a fitness-tracking website.
Since college, Davis-Hayes has won several notable races including the Maryland Duathlon, Philadelphia Triathlon, and Long Course Triathlon. Her proudest accomplishment was taking first place at New York City Triathlon because she lives in New York.
Her overall record is also impressive. According to www.road-results.com, she finished in the top 50 percent in 85 out of 96 races, and in the top five perfect in 33 competitions. Her recent bronze adds to the tally.