ITU Africa Cup, East London (Incl. SA Champs)

 

This past weekend was our National Triathlon Champs, held in East London. The SA Champs for U23 and Elites forms one race with the ITU African Cup as well, which means that there are always a few international athletes. This year, being Common Wealth Games, meant that SA’s top athletes like Richard Murray, Henri Schoeman, Wian Sullwald and Wikus Weber would be fighting for their slots for the Games. Raising the profile of the race considerably.

For me it was about having a good day and not being nearly strong enough at the moment to race with the front guys, to just go out and have the best race I possibly could. I had a good block of training leading into the race, a little disrupted with varsity tests but I was in good form nonetheless.

The days leading up to the race I was really nervous, this being due my DNF last year. I knew I was in much better shape going into the race this year and that my swim had improved a bit as well. Everything went smoothly leading into the race and come race day I felt ready but overwhelmed by nerves.

The swim turned out to be a non-wetsuit swim which usually is to my disadvantage but this time I was positive it would help me for some reason. The first lap saw a group of 5 of us form the chase pack and we held a nice tempo and it was only in the run up to transition that split us up a bit.

On the bike, I felt below par. The first half lap I was struggling to work and felt like I had no power in my legs which saw me drop out of the chase pack with another athlete, Dylan Pivo. We then bike well together to limit the damage but lost time nonetheless. We rode the next three laps together and also caught a Russian athlete who just sat at the back for a free ride and not willing to help us.

Going onto the run, I started hard but in control and for the first 3km I was feeling good. Then I faded quite a bit for the 2nd and 3rd lap. Going into the fourth and final lap, I gave it everything and found a nice rhythm again which I feel I lost after the first few kilometres. A strong finish saw me hold onto 13th overall in the ITU Cup race. I was also then 4th in the U23 category for SA Champs and 8th SA Elite. Overall I am a little disappointed but also I feel that I had a good race with only a few negatives, so with the time I had to prepare I think it quite well.

Now it is a little over two weeks until Africa Champs in Zimbabwe, where I hope to build on the bit of momentum I have gained since the season started.

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Race Recap

So I realise I have been slack with putting up race reports in the past but this year I decided to make sure I got them done as soon as possible after the races. It’s the 3rd month of the year and I have already fallen behind. This varsity thing is no joke and is taking up more time than I thought it would this year. Luckily I am on track to finish my degree at the end of next year which is a powerful motivator.

To get to the more important details… I had what I would say a rather mediocre race at the ATU African Sprint Cup in Cape Town two weeks ago. I lost contact with the pack at the last turn buoy and just never really recovered after that. A terrible bike leg and then pretty torrid run saw me lose time and a lot of it. From this I lost a bit of confidence but I knew that at least my swimming is starting to take some form and trying to balance varsity and training in the first few weeks has been quite a challenge but I’m slowly getting into a good routine.

I had two weeks to re-group and then I was able to head home to KZN to race at what I call my home venue, Midmar Dam. It was the Midlands Ultra Sprint race, which I have been doing since I started triathlon so it is a special race to me and I love being able to race so close to home. This time I had a training partner Drikus Coetzee racing alongside me.

My race plan was to push the swim and then take it as hard as I could until I felt I couldn’t sustain the effort any more. I exited the water 3rd, on Drikus’s feet, about 35s down on Jeff Norton. We swam really well together coming out the water in 10:04 for a non-wetsuit swim. I was happy. Going onto the bike I knew I would struggle to find the power and with it being a non-drafting race, all I could do was push whatever watts I could and see what happened from there. I sat 2nd on the bike behind Drikus for about 14km and then I broke a spoke on my front wheel. I managed to keep holding a decent effort but then going around the last turn point and about 2.5km from the finish of the bike, another spoke went and my front wheel was very unstable and was moving from pad to pad in the brake housing. I dropped back into 3rd and had to take it easy into transition.

Going onto the run I knew it take a great effort to catch up to Jeff in 2nd and a huge effort to catch Drikus in 1st. so set out at a maintainable pace and hoped to build it from there but unfortunately I just didn’t have the legs on the day and crossed the line in 3rd.

Overall I am pretty happy with the result, still on the podium even with a mechanical on the bike. Always nice to finish near the top at one of my favourite races and venues. Big congrats to Drikus for a dominating performance on the day and to Jeff who held me off on the run for 2nd. 3 weeks to go until SA Champs in East London and lots of work, both in training and varsity but always a good thing to challenge yourself J

 

A few pics of the race.

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2014 KZN Triathlon Champs

It has been a while since I have been able to blog about a triathlon race, in fact almost ten months to the day. 2013 turned out to be one heck of a year and unfortunately as it happened I just didn’t race.

So KZN Champs was the perfect way to get back into racing. I have completed a really good base block over December so I knew that I would at least be above to cope with the race. The race was set at Midmar dam, probably my favourite venue to race as I have spent many hours there and in the surrounding countryside training.

Onto the actual race. I had a very mediocre swim, I really strugled to get going in the first lap but I seemed to find my rhythm on the second lap and reduce the deficit a bit. I exited the water in 5th place but managed to get out of transition and onto the bike in 3rd. After the first 5km on the bike, everyone had sort of either dropped back or made their way towards the front so it was myself and Glen Gore chopping and changing at 2nd and Gian-Nicola De Dominicis in the lead. I had to work really hard on the flats and downhills to stay in contact as I was on a road bike without aero bars and had to keep up with the guys on TT bikes with deep section wheels. So in that regard I think I over cooked the bike a bit but that’s also because I felt pretty good. Going onto the run was a nightmare, my legs were on the verge of cramping badly for the first 2.5km. After about 5km my legs started to feel better and I was able to open my stride a bit but it was too little too late and I had to settle for 3rd.

All in all I can’t really complain about the race, it was a shock to the system but it was the wake up I needed early in the year before the real racing starts.

Thanks to KZN Triathlon and Glen Gore for putting on a great and well organised event. Also I need to thank Trevor Rowe from Pro-Lite SA for giving up his Friday to build my new race machine. To PowerBar SA, Powertap SA, ASG Sports and Speedo SA for their support.

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Until the next race, cheers.

Sunday Tribune Hill2Hill

This past weekend I took part in the Sunday Tribune Hill2Hill mountain-bike race that goes from Hilton to Hillcrest and is around 100km in distance. Previous years saw some bad weather but this year the forecast was for 30 degree plus temperature and some berg winds to help push us towards Durban.

I have wanted to do this race for many years but due to me being too young and other commitments I have somehow managed to miss it every year. So this year I was pretty determined to make a plan and enter.

So I found myself making to trip down from Pretoria to Pietermaritzburg (home) to see what the fuss and hype was all about. I haven’t been riding much in the last month or two so I didn’t have any great expectations but I had some personal aspirations to achieve but I would take the day as came.

I was seeded into C batch as B batch was for the pro/elite women. After arriving a bit late I ended but having to start at the back of the batch and got caught up at a bottle neck just after the start and the batch split quickly and I was unable to bridge back up to them through town and then just had to race my own race and settle down into a good rhythm and hammer out the kilometres. Before I knew it I had reached the 50km water point and I then made the decision to tap off a bit and try and get to the finish in one piece, especially as I was not fit enough to have raced to 50km and then still have another 50km to ride. So I continued on and slowly built my effort back to a hard tempo but I paid for it at about 90km where I started getting some cramps going up the last big climb of the day and had to take it fairly easy through the finish, because if I tried to put any power down, my legs were on the verge of full blown cramp. I crossed the line in 04:32:35 which is a bit quicker than my 5hr goal that I set for myself. I was quite happy with the race as it was a pretty decent for my first one and I will be back in the future to try and improve my time.

Until next time…

Burry Stander Sardine Classic

This past weekend I rode in the Burry Stander Sardine Classic mountain-bike race which has been dedicated to the late Burry Stander, who was a cycling legend in South Africa for those who do not know.

I have bee riding quite a lot of mountain-biking these past few months and this was the first race that I have done where it has not been a team event but rather a individual race. As I have not raced since 2010, I was btached quite far back but managed to organise to get myself in B batch. This still meant that i would be racing the clock to get a good position and not against the guys in A batch.

I started quite hard to get to the front of the batch and after a couple of climbs into the race I found myself alone and y chase to catch up to A batch continued as I picked up my effort, I needed to ride hard as they started a good 7min ahead of us and it was only at around the 15km mark that I caught the back markers of the front batch. As I continued my relentless slog up to the top of the gorge I was reeling in quite a few guys but was still unsure of how I was doing compared to the leaders of the race. So my plan was to ride as fast as I could until I hit the wall. In the last 8km or so I started feeling the effects of riding at 185bpm heart rate for the good part of an hour and a half and faded a bit. I ended up riding 02:04:10 for the 42km route. I wanted to ride 2hrs flat, so I was just outside that time. Overall I am quite happy with the way the race turned out as I finished 27th overall and had a lot of fun while doing it. This result has improve my seeding index which should mean I can start in A batch at the next race and hopefully improve.

It was definitely good to back racing on the mountain-bike and I am wanting to incoporate more of this into my training to get stronger on the bike leg of the triathlon.

Cheers.

Dusi2c

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to take part in the inaugural Dusi2c event. It is a two day mountain-bike race that starts at the Natal Canoe Club in Pietermaritzburg and ends at Blue Lagoon in Durban. The race follows the famous Dusi Canoe Marathon race through the Umgeni Valley with the overnight stop at Mfula Store in the heart of the Valley. This race was different as the race organisers diverted from the traditional marking of the course and we had to guide ourselves using a GPS bike computer with the route map uploaded onto the device.

Again I rode with William Stubbs and after a very successful and enjoyable Sani2c not too long ago, we were set for a good weekend on the bike. As the numbers for the race were quite limited, the batches on Day 1 were quite small and William and myself found ourselves in C batch. We started the day quite slowly but we were quickly jostling for positions as we hit a stretch of single track quite soon after the start. the route was very interesting as we had to make our way out the middle of town and we did this by not even crossing over a main road. Soon we found ourselves heading into the outlying areas and it was here that we overshot a turning for the first time. With the GPS delay and high speeds on the flat roads we ended up doing this about fives times during the course of the 65km first day but luckily my CycleOps Joule GPS quickly alerted me whenever we left the route and we could quickly rectify the error and resume on the correct heading. we had a good day one and ended up 37th overall and crossed the line in 03:34:33.

Day 2 saw the number of batches reduced and the number of teams in each batch increase which meant that William and I started in A batch. Day 2 was dubbed a fast day that would suit the stronger riders on the roads as it was not too technical but still a great amount of single track. William and I slogged on at a solid consistent effort and slowly reeled in many teams that raced away from us in the first few kilometers. We ended up 41st on Day 2 in a time of 3:07:31 for the 58km route.

All in all it was a really good weekend of bike riding and I really enjoyed catching-up with some friends who I have not seen in quite awhile.

A big thanks to Bicycle Power Trading (CycleOps SA) for organising the Joule GPS for me and there help to get the routes onto the device, couldn’t have asked for a better unit to use for this type of racing.

Also to William who organised the entry and made it all happen. Lastly, to Farmer Glen and his team for putting together another class event.

Until next time…

Photo Blog – Sani2c

Here’s just a few pics of William and myself during this years Sani2c Adventure.

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The bikes ready to Rock n Roll.

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Waiting in Underberg for our batch start on Day 1.

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The tented camp at Mckenzie Club, at the end of Day 1.

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Getting ready for Day 2.

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In our batching pen for the start of Day 2.

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At the Maritzburg College water table on Day 2.

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Waiting for our batch start at Jolievet, Day 3.

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The rain stopped just for our start but soon continued.

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William holding our batch D sticker, we moved up from L batch!

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Myself coming to the end of the new 360 Life floating bridge at the finish.

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Re-packing our gear into our bags at the finish.

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William and myself content with 3 days of great riding!

Sani2c Race Report- Continued

So I have already reported on our first day of this world class race and here is a short report on day 2 and 3.

Day 2

Day 2 is known for the spectacular drop down into the Umko Valley. With single track that winds its way down the valley and is probably the highlight of the race. After all the fun and games to the first water table, we began the long climb up and out of the valley. William rode within himself to make sure we didn’t have the hassle of him cramping again which worked out well. Once we got out of the valley, I began to push William quite a bit so that we could hopefully move up another batch to the final day. We ended up riding 6hrs 17min and moved into the top 200 and just scraping into D batch. Day 2 is quite a long day and I really enjoyed riding the Umko valley again and being able to help William get through what is a tough day by most riders standards.

Day 3

We woke to a wet and rainy day. So we dressed up and began preparing our gear for the final day of 85km to Scottburgh on the south coast. With all the mud in the first 10km , William had hassles with his chain and couldn’t shift out of his big blade which meant we lost time on the first few climbs but luckily at the first water table at 23km they had washers for the riders to get rid of most of the mud and grit. From then on it was all about enjoying what was left this awesome race. We starting making up time on the guys from group that left us in the beginning and eventually all that was left was to conquer the floating bridge that had gained a reputation for being tricky. In the end it was a little unnerving but good fun. We completed the last day of 85km in 4hrs 25min which put us a bit in the top 200 of the Adventure.

It was an awesome experience and I really enjoyed riding this race again. A big thanks to William and Juluka Forest Services for giving me the chance to ride.

We will be riding a new event Dusi2c in June together and Berg and Bush later in the year.

Sani2c – Day 1

Myself and William Stubbs were paired together for this epic race. We got seeded in L batch for the first day which meant we only started at around 10 am.

We started quite easy with everyone in our batch and after a few km’s we built up some momentum and were soon riding through the groups in front off us. Fling down the single track and pulling strong up the climbs. We were on track for a 4hr first day (79km) but unfortunately William cramped at 65km and had to soft pedal quite a bit to the finish, luckily I was still feeling strong and was able to lend a hand and help push him up the last few climbs.

We ended up with a 4:17 first day and 218 overall which meant we would start day 2 in E batch.

All in all we had a good day and are looking forward to a strong day 2.

SA Champs (ITU African Cup, East London)

This past weekend was the ITU Cup in East London which included the South African Champs as well. This race was always going to be a tough race for me,as I have just moved into the U23 elite category and that means racing Olympic distance. East London is known to have some strong winds blowing but luckily race day was fairly calm. The ocean was flat and the temperatures were in the 30′s.

In the swim it was a fast start into the water but I quickly settled down onto some feet and tried to relax as I would need the energy going into the second lap where my weakness in swimming would be exposed. I felt quite good coming out and around the flags for the second lap and only lost a few meters to the two other guys I was with. Heading back to the beach and out the water, I was unlucky not to catch the wave that the two other athletes caught, leaving me alone at the tail end of the race. I thought with the long run up to transition I might be able to make up some time but as I got into transition they were leaving.

The bike course was a 4 lap course that was undulating and in general quite tough. Being alone and fully exposed to the wind I was looking time the whole bike leg. I rode as hard as could to try and limit the damage but in the end I just spent my self chasing guys that were going quicker than me in their various groups. Despite my poor positioning in the race I was determined to stay positive and get through the race.

Going onto the run I immediately knew that I had biked too hard and would pay for it on the run. Though I felt okay I just tried to settle down in a rhythm and get across the line. After the first lap I started to fade physically and by the time I got to the turn around point on lap 2 I felt quite dizzy and basically I had hit the proverbial wall, and I had hit it hard. I stopped a few times and then carried on but eventually I was doing more harm and than good and pulled out the race. To stop in such an important race was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made and as bad as I feel about it, I think it was better to stop before too much damage was caused before the year has really even got going.

All in all, I am extremely disappointed with my DNF but I learnt where my limits are in a race, especially so early on, chasing the while bike leg to a point that is ultimately the end of the race. Being only my 3rd standard distance race, I think I still have lots to learn before I can be competitive and with lots of work to do on my swimming I am looking forward to using the next few  months to bring my weaknesses up to par and to come back later to be more competitive at the front end of the race.

A big thanks must go to Triathlon South Africa for all their support. It is really great to be apart of their growing success. Hopefully I can bring them some better results in the near future.