One year on. One new human in our house. Nine additional kilos of body fat on me. It was time to whip out the neoprene and dust off the bike.
If you are going to ease your body back into the demands of a triathlon on very little training, then best you do it in the surroundings of a paradise. The West Coast National park truly is a gem just an hour outside of Cape Town. The massive lagoon, which is protected from the Atlantic by a jut of land, means that there is not one wave to contend with. When the wind doesn’t blow, the surface is as smooth as a snooker table. And when you are out on the roads in the reserve, the only thing you need to worry about is dodging the odd tortoise and keeping clear of the Ostriches and Eland (In 2015, some poor bloke literally got head butted off his bike by an Eland because he gave it a fright on his bike – he survived though and was on the start line this year).
So the setting was pristine, the conditions were as good as it was ever going to get. It’s time. I am admittedly a super competitive person. I would beat my 8month old daughter in a game of pick up blocks if my wife wasn’t watching. But a strange calm descended over me on race morning. No expectations. No pressure. No Gareth Price. Bliss.That was until Ian van Rijswijk slowly strolled over towards me as I stood in the water waiting for the starters whistle to go. He approached me with the same swagger you would expect to see from Butch Cassidy in his pomp. His right arm slightly bent towards the hip, like he was about to draw. He stopped about a meter in front of me. Not saying a word. Proceeding to look me up and down in my snuggly fitted wetsuit. A smile of victory overcame his face. He obviously saw his opportunity. That’s when I thought, game on.
The whistle blows (No guns when you are in a nature reserve), and like an overweight seal, I dived into that lagoon ready to kill. With my goggles misting up within seconds, I was swimming blind. Not knowing where I was in the pack, but with the raw wattage power that I could feel being disbursed through my arms, I naturally assumed I was in the lead. I wasn’t. Besides a hand full of vaalies that hadn’t seen open water in their lives before, I was way at the back.
So besides myself and Pietie from Pofadder, T1 was pretty empty. I had some catching up to do. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing when you’ve done about as much training leading up to the race as what your average MTD athlete does in a week. Ticking over nicely on the bike along the 40km rolling hill cycling route with an alternating head and tail wind, I managed to work my way through the field. Surviving the abundance of Eland and Ostriches, I rolled back into T2, ready for the run.
This is where you get to see parts of the park that you wouldn’t normally get to see as a day tripper. They take you over pretty much every sand dune that they could find. Your feet sink with every step and it is the hardest but most scenic run course you will encounter.
So how did my duel with Ian end up? He thrashed me. Somewhere in the middle of the run, he came past me and left me for dead like a wounded rodent on one of the 29 sand dunes that we had to clamber over. I didn’t bother me to much though. It was just good to be back.
The race from start to finish was something that I would only recommend to anyone. Make a weekend away of it too like we did. There is something for everyone in the event hosted over the two full days. There are short or long races, MTB or road categories, teams or individuals, and even races for the kid’s...
I will without a doubt be back for the Warm Water Weekend in 2017.
A special mention: Keelyn Van Breda & Matt Trautman
Keelyn took her performances to the next level this weekend. Taking on the longer course, she missed out on finishing on the top step by a mere 6 seconds. Keep your eye on this one.
Mighty Matt pretty much dominated from start to finish. Placing first by some distance. Looking forward to watching him at Ironman SA…
Well done to both.