Aneta Grabmüller Version 3.0

Making a statement with her 4th place finish at the 2024 XTERRA World Cup opener in Taiwan, Aneta Grabmüller is no stranger to a big comeback. After a second major break from the sport to start a family, this is Grabmüller 3.0 with all the upgrades of experience, strength of motherhood, and talent to contend at the top.

Written by
Sarah Bonner
min read
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The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Aneta Grabmüller's passion for triathlon has been lifelong, but she hasn't been participating in the sport for her entire life. A young rising superstar in the Czech national team, at only 15 she was on track for Olympic qualification. With all the talent and opportunity in the world, nobody would expect such a turnaround of events that led to her retirement only a few years later. 

“In 2014 when the Rio Olympic qualification started, I got seriously injured. I had a stress fracture that was not healing. I missed the entire season and my body just stopped working. Whenever I started to train again, it would be another injury. I just kept going, I kept trying, but it didn't really work out.”

Her stress fracture turned out to be part of a deeper problem. Under constant pressure from her coaches to lose weight and look a specific way, Grabmüller was chronically undereating. She developed an eating disorder and Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). The toxic environment not only damaged her physical and mental health, it also caused her to hate the sport she loved.  

Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Czech

At 21, Grabmüller retired, quit all sports, and moved to Norway to study. 

“At that point, I hated triathlon and I never wanted to come back to it.”

“Moving to Norway was running away from the life I had in the Czech Republic. At first, when I was applying for Erasmus, I applied to Spain and Italy where you can do triathlon. And then I changed my mind and went to the furthest place I could, which was Norway. My second option was Iceland.”



A New Study

“Norway was really life changing. As for many people, studying abroad is, but for me, it was really important that when I got there, I realized I still wanted to do sport.”

Grabmüller started to ski, hike, run in the forest, and even joined a swim club. She was also enjoying being a student, academically and socially. 

“I would go out and come home at midnight or 2am and still wake up in the morning to go to the 5:30am swim session. I would take a nap after and then go for a run in the mountains. It was like, okay, I don't need to be a professional athlete, but I still want to do this.”

“I genuinely enjoy sport for myself and that was really important for me to know. All these years I was doing it for myself and I want to keep going, keep doing it.”

Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Czech


Aneta 2.0

Grabmüller flourished in Norway. She met her husband, continued her studies and took a PhD position in Oslo, and even found her way back to triathlon. Working her way back up to elite racing, her talent didn’t go unnoticed and she was invited to join the national cross triathlon team. A few years later she was “fully racing” on the Winter Triathlon circuit and in 2021 she won the bronze medal at the world championships. She also found her way to a few XTERRA start lines, finishing just outside the podium both times. 

Despite finding her love for sport again, time away from triathlon didn’t heal all her wounds. 

“I thought that it was the past and I had it solved, that I had moved on. But when I came back to triathlon, all of a sudden, I had all those memories rushing back and I knew I had to do something about it. I couldn’t just let it go.” 

“A lot of people believe sport needs to be a lot of suffering and you can't have joy, that you need to starve yourself because the skinnier the better."

“Norway is so advanced in this area. They have a lot of initiatives, they have a lot of safety controls and so I saw and I experienced that sport can be done safely, it can be fun and you definitely don't need to have an eating disorder.”

For herself and other athletes, Grabmüller applied for the IOC Young Leaders programme. She was accepted and received funding to start an awareness project, Naplno. The project raises awareness about RED-S and provides support and information for athletes, parents, and coaches.

Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Czech

“A lot of people believe sport needs to be a lot of suffering and you can't have joy, that you need to starve yourself because the skinnier the better. All of these opinions are still here, and I'm trying to change that.”

"If you want to do sport, you need to fuel it. Otherwise you get injured, it's as simple as that."

“First of all, you need to eat to perform. I feel like I keep saying that over and over, but it's still not enough. If you want to do sport, you need to fuel it. Otherwise you get injured, it's as simple as that. And you really don't need to have a specific body type or specific weight.”



New Focus

In 2022, Grabmüller had ambitions for the second part of her career, but her goals changed quickly when she became pregnant. 

“I had this idea of how I would be this badass pregnant woman who runs until labor. And then I was there in the first trimester, vomiting, being so exhausted, just laying on my sofa, doing nothing.”

When she felt well enough, Grabmüller chose to swim or ski two or three times a week but always knew she wanted to return to competition. 

“I went into my pregnancy knowing that I want to come back. I told everyone I will be back in Prachatice at the XTERRA World Cup, just a half year after I gave birth. That was a horrible decision,” she laughs. 

“So many women made it look so easy to come back and so many of them are better than they were before pregnancy. I was like, oh, there is this magic, it's just gonna happen and it's gonna be easy.”

Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) / 2023 XTERRA World Cup / Beaver Creek

It was far from easy, but with a new family and all her experience, Grabmüller knew exactly what to focus on to stay healthy and joyful. After a tough comeback race in her hometown of Prachatice where she still finished 11th, Grabmüller lined up only a few weeks later at the XTERRA USA Championship and impressively finished 4th. 

Balancing breastfeeding and recuperating from a pelvic floor injury stemming from her pregnancy, she found herself needing additional time off during the autumn months. However, spurred by the beckoning of the 2024 XTERRA World Cup, she recommenced her training regimen, her sights firmly set on stop #1 in Taiwan.



A New Contender

On the outside, Taiwan was a career-best XTERRA race for Grabmüller. She was first out of the water, led the bike for an hour, and finished just off the podium in 4th place. 

In reality, her performance was even more impressive given the circumstances. Not only did she and her family arrive in Taiwan a mere three days before, but she was sick and unable to familiarize herself with the entire bike course. 

“I felt absolutely the worst the moment we landed in Taiwan. I felt so bad. I couldn't swallow, I had such a sore throat. I couldn't talk to my husband. I couldn't eat. I was like, how am I going to race in three days?”

Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) on the wheel of Alizée Paties (FRA) / 2024 XTERRA World Cup / Taiwan

“Everyone keeps saying I had an amazing race. Given these circumstances, yes, I had a great race, but I think I can—I know I can—do so much better if I'm healthy, if I know the course. Personally, I would give myself maybe 6 out of 10.”

Grabmüller hopes she will have more to show in Greece. “In Taiwan, I learned what my weaknesses are and what I need to work on, which was really important. I know I need to spend way more time on the bike outdoors. So that's the task: just ride as much as I can on my mountain bike. If I do well on the bike, then I can also have a much better run.”



A World Title

Grabmüller, now 31, admits racing for the World Cup title might not be a reality for her this season as she finishes her doctorate and meets the demands of new motherhood. However, there is one less official XTERRA world title she is vying for. 

Aneta Grabmüller (CZE) / 2024 XTERRA World Cup / Taiwan

Grabmüller is one of the best swimmers on the XTERRA circuit and is almost unbeaten in the water. “I want to claim the mermaid title,” she says as a teasing demand. 

“Chun [veteran XTERRA announcer] asked me what nickname I should have and I said, ’mermaid.’ He said, no, that’s already Emma Decreux. But I think I can be better in the water.”

Aneta Grabmüller speaks to Doug Hall for an episode of Cross-Tri Tales

For more on Grabmüller, her racing, and her work to raise awareness for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, check out her episode of Cross-Tri Tails.  You can also follow her and all the race action happening at the World Cup in Greece via the World Cup stop #2 page, and be sure to subscribe to the XTERRA YouTube channel for the extended highlights and analysis video dropping the week after the race.











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Author Bio

Sarah Bonner

Sarah Kim Bonner (MA, PGDip, BA Hons) is a Canadian freelance writer, graphic designer, and professional triathlete. She has worked as a creative for over 10 years, specializing in written storytelling within endurance sports. Emotionally allergic to an office 9-5, she has lived and raced all over the world from the Arctic to Africa and now calls the Canary Islands home. Find her at or @sarahkimbonner.

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