I sit here alone at my home in Cape Town. It’s 9pm in the evening on Saturday 6 August 2016. I have just witnessed something that touched me so deeply that I had to share this story in words to do it justice. You see it is a story that is about two women, the Norseman Extreme Triathlon and Friendship
The video clip i just watched brought tears to my eyes. It is a video of two friends and a friendship between two incredible women. So before I insert the link and spoil the background please continue reading ….
Bianca Tait and Claire Le Manach began their Triathlon journey together through the Tri Fit Programme at Sports Science Institute of South Africa I think 4 years ago. For those of you reading this and who may know Bianca and Claire they are very much kindred spirits. Small in size they both may be but they are two of the most determined, generous, adventurous and humble women you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. They have shared much of their highest and lowest moments in Triathlon since they both began in the sport. They have swam in some of the coldest waters South Africa has to offer, shared long rides in all kinds of weather, ran around much of the Cape Peninsula and paced each other at Running races.
I thought they were crazy when two years ago they hatched a plan nay a dream to both do The Norseman together. They further agreed that if one of them didnt get in the other would support on the day. Unfortunately as some may know Bianca got in to Norseman 2015 but Claire didn’t! However the bond of friendship they share is so strong that Claire kept her word and followed her friend and training partner to Norway and was the most amazing support person Bianca could have wished for on what was a very hard day tinged with a little disappointment. Watch the video link at to see Claire consoling Bianca as she sat in the Black t shirt cut off having just missed the cut off by a whisker. Watch the video and look for them both from 1:01
So Norseman 2015 came and went and Claire being as crazy as Bianca was undeterred in her quest to race the Norseman and entered for 2016…….. and got in! Was there a moments hesitation from Bianca upon finding out Claire was in for Norseman 2016. Absolutely not she was in and already talking about training and planning for Claire’s bigday in 2016.
So now we arrive at race day, I wasn’t in Norway this year to support so I have hugged the computer and hit the refresh button when updates on the live tracking stopped. Unfortunately as fate would have it Claire’s chip chose to not work properly it seems and put many people that were following her progress globally into a mild panic. Particularly given that it looked like she had decided to take a nap on the side of the road at around the 140km mark. So we waited and waited and waited, my computer, my tablet and my phone all turned the colour blue through my sheer frustration and anxiety of not knowing what had happened to Claire. Then suddenly the blip popped up at near the Gaustatoppen Guesthouse and my heart momentarily lifted then sank.
For those that know the Norseman race and its course, the first 150 athletes to reach the black t shirt cut off go up to Gaustatoppen whilst the remainder are diverted where you finish the race running a couple of loops and are upon finishing that course are presented with the white finishers t shirt. Its cruel but its Norseman and though you may not summit Gaustatoppen for the Black t shirt, you are still recognized as finishing one brutal race.
So yes I was relieved to see that she was ok and still racing but I was devastated for her that she didn’t get to chase that black t shirt. I believe though that whether it is a Black or White t shirt finishing The Norseman race is an incredible achievement in itself and the t shirt is ultimately just a small memento to take away from that special day. It is no where near as valuable as the memories of a day spent challenging yourself to the max and getting to meet new people and make new friends. You never know where that first hello and introduction may take you.
I bet Bianca and Claire never dreamed where they would be today when they first met 4 years ago!
Enjoy the video of Bianca and Claire finishing The Norseman 2016 together.