Catching Up With Triathlete Ceci Davis-Hayes ’11, As If That Were Possible

Representing the USA with third place finishes in 25-29 Age Group (l to r): Ceci Davis-Gayes '11 & Todd Buckingham
Representing the USA with third place finishes in 25-29 Age Group (l to r): Ceci Davis-Gayes '11 & Todd Buckingham

For those of you just checking in you might want to start at the beginning where Ceci Davis-Hayes was an oft-injured three-sport runner at Williams College who has undergone a remarkable athletic transformation since leaving Williams.

Davis-Hayes' development as an internationally competitive triathlete has not just been about her blossoming as an athlete as she has had to overcome several serious injuries post-Williams.

Who knew that taking up cycling would lead Davis-Hayes back to competitive running and even to swimming and then competing on the international stage in amateur triathlons.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Williams Davis-Hayes enrolled in the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons where she engages in all sorts of multi-tasking to fit in her academic demands and the need to train regularly in three different disciplines.

In another previous article posted on our site Davis-Hayes talked about her training and her multi-tasking in the lead up to her first appearance representing the USA in the International Triathlon Union World Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico in September. Davis-Hayes does her triathlon training in New York City; cycling at The Palisades, running in Central Park, and swimming in many of the nearby pools.

Ceci Davis-Hayes
at Williams

This year Davis-Hayes won the 2016 Philly Triathlon, which was a huge thrill as she hails from Philadelphia, was the first amateur women's finisher in the 2016 New York City Triathlon (3rd overall), and won the 2016 Long Course Duathlon (running and biking) National Championship.

Check out Ceci's competitive highlights from 2014 through Mexico 2016 (http://bit.ly/2dffAGk).

In Mexico on September 18 Davis-Hayes posted a remarkable finish after a rough and somewhat disappointing start in her first appearance on the world stage. The race was contested with temperatures in the mid-90s and the humidity at 100%. Her third place finish (first American) in the 25-29 age group in 2:09.11 in Cozumel placed her sixth overall among all of the women competitors.

The temperature in the Caribbean waters was 85 degrees, prompting Davis-Hayes to comment that, "it felt like bath water." The swim was 1500 meters (0.9 mile), followed by a 40k (24.8-mile) bike ride and concluding with a 10k (6.2 mile) run.

The swim is Davis-Hayes' weakest event and swimming in the ocean made it all the more difficult. "My swim was disappointing, but in retrospect not surprising as the water was really rough, which makes it very difficult for newbie swimmers like me. Unfortunately the current was very strong, which was also tough for me because I have never swum in ocean currents like that before."

"I actually had a few swim lessons from former Williams swim team captain, Gary Roberson, during my 5-year reunion this summer," Davis-Hayes added. Roberson was an All-American swimmer for the Ephs and spent a year assisting Eph head coach Steve Kuster. Swimming is the one event that Davis-Hayes can make the most improvement in down the road, which will increase her chances of success.

Davis-Hayes was not able to wear a wet suit in the swim due to the high heat and that coupled with her inexperience in ocean swimming left her seven minutes behind the leader and in 26th place with the bike and the run remaining.

"I really surprised myself with a big breakthrough on the bike, clocking 26 mph over the 24.8-mile course, by far the fastest I've ever gone," said Davis-Hayes. "I'm proud of how I maintained my focus to finish strong with a solid run in very tough weather conditions. I had the fastest bike split of any woman that day in 57:40, which was a personal record for me over that distance."

In the final event, the 10k run Davis-Hayes was able to utilize the many water stations along the route stating, "There were water stations every kilometer, thank goodness, and I took at least one cup of water (most dumped on my head) and ice (down by back) at each table. It required a lot of mental toughness to keep the pace up on that run.

The two lessons Davis-Hayes learned in Mexico were that she really needs to improve her swimming and she now also values the importance of keeping her composure. "Even when it seemed impossible to come back from a handicap so big as the 7-minute deficit in the swim, I didn't let myself believe the gap was too big, and I just went to work on the bike and started catching people," said Davis-Hayes.

So if you are wondering where Ceci Davis-Hayes goes from here with her medical career and her triathlon career, please be advised that shortly after returning to New York City Davis-Hayes was on a plane heading to San Francisco.

On the west coach she met with renowned triathlon coach Matt Dixon who just became her coach this summer and Dixon assessed her performances over the year and talked to Davis-Hayes about her training.

"Matt Dixon is the founder of Purple Patch Fitness, which is dedicated to helping athletes achieve peak performance," stated Davis-Hayes. "Matt is the coach of multiple world champions. After seeing me swim, bike, and run the past few days he compared me to a Canadian pro that finished third at Half-Ironman World Championships. She has my body type and my strength and weaknesses."

Dixon told Davis-Hayes, "You're like her, but you have more talent,"

"So that was flattering..." Davis-Hayes said. "Matt wants to continue to coach me, so we shall see where this goes. Big question right now is sponsorship and how to support my travel, rent, etc."

Davis-Hayes will now have to figure out how to combine even a higher level of training and medical school demands or maybe take a year off from medical school to see what she capable by training full-time.

You can read more about Ceci Davis-Hayes on her website.