Race week finally arrived and the race was the 2017 SA Duathlon Champs. This means that you are able to get that taper week, in my case it wasn’t a full taper as I have World Champs coming up in August. Never the less, as most athletes who race, know that there is no better feeling than having a taper week because you don’t go to bed with aching muscles from days of training.
On Wednesday morning, I was getting ready for a fast track session to take place because it was Wacky Wednesday aka the day where the whole track session is about speed. That’s when the amazing words came out of Coach Travis's mouth that he and I will be doing a different set. The rest of the week went fast as there wasn’t much training to be done on the Thursday and I was driving down on that Friday to Midmar Dam. Saturday was race briefing and we got to ride/run the course if you didn't know it already. It’s also your pre-race warm up to get the blood going for the next day’s racing.
Race day arrived and it was a cold morning at the dam and an early start as transition opened at 5am. But routine is key when it comes to racing, big bowl of oats 2 hours before the race, and an energy bar 20min before the start and my warm-up would take place about 40minutes before the start.
As the junior men lined up on the start line there is no better feeling having those butterflies in your stomach and your muscles feeling race ready. As the gun went off, one of the KZN guys went sprinting out and everyone looked at each other and thought this was going to be a real fast first 5km run. However he slowly faded and the race started to develop run groups and I found myself stuck in the middle of the front three runners with four runners behind me and thought to myself this is going to be a really hard 20km bike especially being on my own and knowing that the wind was starting to pick up.
Towards the end of the first run one of the athletes in the front run pack fell off and I managed to close the gap. By the time we reached the transition it was a bit of relief in my mind knowing I had someone to work with on the bike and closed down the gap to the front pair. It was hard fast riding trying to catch Greer and Biggs as they were flying. We managed to close the gap to 50sec.
The second run which was 2.5km, which meant it was going to be a fast run. I was unable to go with the pace of the athletes and I fell off his shoulder with about 1km into the run as my legs were completely smashed from the combination of the hilly run and bike course that we completed in the first half of the race. I was still able to get 3rd in the 18-19 age group and 4th overall across the line at the end of the race and was very happy with result and was a great confidence booster for upcoming races.