So Sunday 11 November I took part in my 2nd ever BSG Sprint tri at the Brandvlei Dam in Worcester. I initially thought it was a bit of a way to go to do an event that was short distance and pricey, the distances comprised of a 600m Swim, 20km Bike and 5km Run. However as @beanker was doing it as part of her triathlon training for Ironman 70.3 in January I figured I would take part for the fun of it and try and improve my result from 2011.
The BSG Triathlon series consists of 5 events run at different venues around South Africa that features a main race for local Elite triathletes, a mass participation event for age groupers and a kiddie’s race also. The event starts and finishes at the Brandvlei prison grounds that are actually a practical place for a triathlon with no traffic to worry about. The event was draft legal and with the bike course being mostly flat it is a fast course. The event itself is a great place to cut your teeth in triathlon with its slick organisation, safe environment and achievable distance. As a result there are plenty of individuals, families, corporate and schools that make the trip and take part.
So after a 1 hour and a half drive up from Cape Town we arrived at the venue just as it was getting light. It was great to see plenty of familiar faces while we made our way with our bikes to transition and it was a nice surprise to see that @beanker’s father had made the trip with a friend to take in the event and snap some pics. I managed to get a good spot close to the transition exit and then prepped my cycling gear and laid out my running stuff. I visualised coming into transition and focussed on where my bike was. I have often in the past gone down the wrong side of the bike racks and wasted time trying to find my bike. This was not going to be one of those days!
I headed down to where my chosen triathlon club for the season @mytrainingday had set up their gazebo and then walked over to the Dinamic Coaching gazebo that @beanker receives her swim coaching from and had chosen to race with for the season ahead. I had a chat with Dinamic’s ever animated and friendly founder Neil MacPherson and the amazingly talented @traceymarkham who was racing as part of a very strong ladies team that included ex pro triathlete Diana MacPherson and Scottish cyclist Anne Ewing. Although they were starting behind 4 minutes behind the mens 30-39 group I knew I was likely to see one of them come whizzing past me but just wasn’t sure which one it would be or how soon.
I headed down to the water before the Elite’s start for a warm-up swim. The early morning weather had presented us with clear skies, no wind and plenty of sunshine. The water was not quite warm enough to be a non wetsuit swim so I chose to take advantage of this and kept mine firmly on. I watched the Elite Men and Women’s race start and then got ready for ours. The groups started at 4 minute intervals and once the green capped younger men of 20 – 29 years set off our yellow capped group of remaining men over 30 stood at the waters edge.
I managed to bump into @PaulIngpen who was clearly itching to get started and had a quick laugh as he and Steve Atwell exchanged a couple of pre race pleasantries. The swim was done and dusted before I could get comfortable and my lungs were burning as I excited the water and headed up the embankment into T1.
Transition went smoothly and I headed out onto the cycle leg with a bottle of @hammernutrition Heed and riding with no socks for the first time. I saw Steve Atwell from @embarktri just ahead of me as I exited transition and I hared after him up the hill.
The cycle leg is still not my strong point and being a strong cyclist he got further and further away. I eased back a bit rather than expending too much energy trying to catch him and soon picked a couple of passengers up along the road. It wasn’t too long before I got caught by a couple of stronger cyclists obviously looking to chase down Steve Atwell and Paul Ingpen. Our initially small group quickly became a large pack as we continued to pick up guys from the earlier starting group. At the turnaround point I didn’t have chance to think about much else apart from putting my head down and cycling as if my life depended on it. I knew that the last few kms of the cycle would be tough for me as I hadn’t done much quality brick training leading into the event. I wanted to try and save my legs for the run and dropped off from the front end of our 20 plus pack and back into the middle to keep out of the wind that had picked up. We hit the hill to the Brandvlei prison entrance and we were less than a kilometre from transition. As we descended the hill Ann Ewing came flying past us to many surprised looks from the guys in our group and a couple of comments of “who the heck was that”.
I managed to get out of my shoes easily enough and placed my feet on top as we approached the dismount line then it was game on as we all shot into transition.
I had a shocker putting my socks on (upside down) and was getting frustrated until I finally managed to pull them on. I pulled on my New Balance Rev Lite’s (1060’s) and headed out of transition trying to get into a rhythm as quickly as possible.
It was getting hot as it always does at this venue and I was glad I was wearing sunscreen and had put on my visor to keep the sun off my face. I had just hit the 2km mark and it felt like I was flying until Henry Wolstenholme breezed past me at breakneck speed. I would hear later that he went on to win the 40-49 category in 1:06:29 and ran a 17:45 split. As I hit the 2.5km turnaround point I noticed that the field was well spread out looking back down the long road and I focussed on the guys ahead of me determined to claw back a few places in the remaining kilometres. I took 2 sachets of water at the final water table and poured them both over my head and shoulders to try and cool down. I made the turn onto the gravel track towards the dam wall and managed to pass a few more guys though I wasn’t sure if they were my age group or younger. I could see the finish a kilometre in the distance and could feel my body’s eagerness to get there. I pushed on and made the turn back onto the tar to cover the last few hundred metres to the finish.
I had a chuckle at @traceymarkham as she revved up Diana Macpherson to catch me as I passed her. The guy just ahead of me realised I was gaining on him and suddenly sprinted off down the finishing chute and I just couldn’t catch him. I crossed the line in 1:09:38 improving my time by nearly 2 minutes from 2011 and heard later that I finished 8/87 in my age group and 33/392 overall. I had given it everything I had and was satisfied with my performance on the day.
I hung around to watch the other finishers coming in although I embarrassingly missed @beanker finishing in 1:24:42 and 13th in her age group which was a great effort at only her 2ndfull triathlon.
Dinamic Coaching’s talented ladies took the team honours on the day with a 1:06:43, Steve Atwell took 2nd in the 30-39 Age Group and Paul Ingpen took 4th in the 40-49. The @mytrainingday triathletes had a great day out with a couple of wins and many podium places in the age groups. Overall a great day out with plenty of room for improvement these are some of the things I will be looking to improve on.
– Practice swimming on the toes of faster swimmers
– Practice with cleats already on the bike with elastics
– Dont ride with socks on shorter distance triathlon
– Try using no socks on the run for shorter distances
See you at the BSG Triathlon Series at Worcester at 2013