On Sunday 20th November I took part in my first ever BSG Energade triathlonat Brandvlei Dam in Worcester. This long running and popular triathlon series takes place in seven venues around South Africa. It is a sprint distance triathlon comprising of a 600m swim, 20km Bike and 5km Run. It is perfect for those cutting their teeth as a tri newbie or for even for those triathletes wanting to keep their skills sharp and push their speed. The event is well organised and includes all ages from as young as 5 to as old (or should I rather say) as young as 65 or older. The event makes for a great spectacle as there is also an Elite division contending both the individual event and overall series titles and brings together the top triathletes in South Africa and occasionally some foreign elites too.
My wife Bianca had also decided to enter and do her first ever triathlon. Unfortunatley a 2nd MRI a couple of weeks before the event saw her nursing a fractured cuboid bone in her foot but she was passed to swim and bike only on the day. A good friend of ours Kim Taylor (@kimtaylorktp) offered to team up with Bianca and do the run leg and so Team Beekay was born. Kim’s husband Jason also decided to take the tri plunge and entered to do his first tri also.
We left Cape Town in high spirits after picking up our close friend and cheerleader for the day Melinda (@mingbean) amidst rain and wind. The weather updates at the venue via my twitter timeline and @1karlien was looking bleak and I was getting slightly concerned the event may be called off. We chatted on the drive through about our hopes and expectations for the race and after being asked by Melinda about my goal for the day I committed myself to trying to get in under 1:10. I was disappointed not to be taking part with Bianca on her first triathlon but was confident she was well trained for the event. I am perhaps a bit overprotective at times but as she had only been cycling for just over a month the wind, rain and wet road surface made me slightly concerned. We arrived at the venue as the rain had broken but it was still windy and the water looked a bit chilly. We surveyed transition and the setup and then headed to registration where we hooked up with Jason and Kim. We racked our bikes and then waited for the race briefing. After race briefing I headed down to the water to have a quick warmup and then waited to watch the Elites start their race.
The fields were seperated by age groups and gender. I could only think of my wife Bianca before the start and how she must have been feeling. I was both anxious and nervous and I hoped that she was less so. Our race started and I started on the inside with few hassles as I tried to get a good line and some space for the first buoy turn. It didnt quite go to plan as I got to the turn and somehow got jammed between the small buoy and the large buoy and had to pull myself out amidst being kicked, slapped and dunked. The second buoy turn was just as comical as I got cracked full force on the ear as i was taking a breath. It was damn painful and apart from seeing stars briefly and having a sore jaw my ears were ringing badly. I didnt take it too well and literally swam over the person in front of me and took my frustration out by pushing harder. I exited the water and felt that I had had a decent enough swim.
Into transition I heard Paul Kaye calling out some recognisable names including Rohan Kennedy’s and I knew that I had had a good swim. I changed quickly and headed out onto the bike nearly ploughing into someone from Embark (dont know who it was) as I mounted my bike and headed out on the road. I headed out of Brandvlei’s entrance on the downhill into the howling wind and light rain pushing pretty hard. After some time I realised I had others tailing me and then soon after saw the familiar moustache of Pumas Head of Sport Collin Allin (@collinallin) pass by me with some other guys in tow. I jumped on the back of the column as they rotated places and effort. I awaited my turn until we got tothe first intersection and as we turned left the person in front of me dropped off and I suddenly couldnt get back on the group. I made the halfway turn a couple of kilometres later still trying to chase them down but had to accept I just couldnt catch them on my own and eased off. I was out on my own with the wind at my back on the way to the dam when I spotted Jason and then Bianca whom I shouted hi excitedly at. About 2 kilometres out from T2 I looked back and saw a group of 3 riders coming up pretty fast so i eased off and then gladly accepted their invitation to “jump on”.
I headed into T2 and had a good transition then headed out onto the run with an aim to try and take some places back and run under 21 minutes if I could. I got into a good early rythmm but could feel that my quads and hammies were loaded. The sun had come out and I could feel the heat as we ran along the 1 loop course. Shortly before the halfway point I noticed Dave Talbot from PTC (Plumstead Triathlon Club) just ahead of me and set out to try and catch him. After turning at the halfway point I spotted the evergreen Viv Williams flying along (@veteranviv) and with a smile I hollered “Go Viv” for support. Back down the road we turned off towards the dam and ran the last 2kms along the bank on a mixture of gravel, grass and sand. I could see Dave off not more than 100m ahead of me but I just could not push any harder. We ran past transition and then up a small bank (that was tricky getting up) to the finish chute. I gave a final push and finished in 1:11:48. I was a little disappointed I didnt achieve my goal of going under 1:10 but settled for a good benchmark in my 1st sprint distance triathlon in tricky race conditions
I met up with Melinda and then we waited for Bianca to come in from the bike. I had only briefly seen Jason out on the bike course and hoped that his race was going well. We waited expectantly for Bianca in the rain and then went up to the road to watch her come in at the dismount spot before T2. She came in and I felt so proud of her for coming in unscathed from the weather and with a smile on her face. She seemed surprised that I had finished and I’ll blame the euphoria for her hilarious “you’ve finished already you bast*rd!” as she ran past me. Considering she shouldnt have been running with a fractured bone in her foot the adrenalin was clearly pumping as she went into T2 to tag Kim for the run.
B and I joined Jason and then changed quickly before going back to the finish to watch Kim finish the race for Team Beekay. Kim finished the run in style and we all headed over for a bite to eat while waiting for the provisional results to come out. We shared our experiences from the mornings triathlon and everyone sounded stoked and were already talking about the next one, a very good sign that the tri bug had truly bitten!
The Elite Men’s race was won by Richard Murray who clawed back a one minute deficit on the run to take the win from Abrahm Louw in a winning time of 59.10. The Elite Ladies race was won by Andrea Steyn in a time of 1:08:43 with Carla van Huyssteen 2nd.
The full results can be viewed here
Get out of your comfort zone and try something different. There is so much out there to experience and if you never have a go you’ll never know what you’re missing.