They don’t call it Extreme for nothing!
What an epic race!
5km choppy swim and battling a strong current, but at least the water was a lovely 18/19c. The lack of sighting buoys also made it difficult; apparently they kept blowing off course so were removed. It became very shallow after the final turn buoy when heading back towards the pier and it was quicker and easier to walk – although there were sharp shells under foot and the depth of the water meant it was quite a workout on your hip flexors.
Our support person was allowed in T1 to help us strip off wetsuit etc. Cobus was adamant that I put on my jacket and gloves as the wind was cold. I took them off after about 30mins once I had warmed up. That’s one of the great things about having a support driver with you the whole way – you can take off/put on clothes as required.
The 174km cycle leg had 2,800m of climbing with a hectic headwind for the first 90km and crazy gusts. But a very beautiful route. From Knysna its rolling hills along the N2 to Wilderness. After you’ve turned off the N2 you are greeted with a horrible very steep 1.5km climb. I gave a little fist pump when I got to the top! Through George there were quite a lot of traffic lights and lots of traffic so I just had to be patient and enjoy the rests. The climb up Outeniqua Pass was long and tough but stunning. It took me about 4hrs to get to checkpoint 2 at 91km! But the next 83kms I rode in 2hrs10mins! After the headwind for the first half we could now enjoy the tailwind. But there were crazy gusts from every direction to contend with so I had to be careful whenever I went over 60km/h. I had a couple of speed wobbles which were fun, but not so much fun for Cobus who was watching from behind in the car! I rode (average power) pretty much as planned and came to the end of the bike feeling great and ready to run.
I didn’t spend much time in T2 and then set off on the 50km gravel run trying to eat a marmite sandwich but basically just ended up choking on it! I thought I needed some normal food but in hindsight I shouldn’t have bothered. I shuffled up the first 4km climb trying to find my running legs, quite amazing for once I was sticking to my coach’s plan! As the first little incline ended I needed a quick pee stop behind a bush, as there hadn’t been a toilet in T2, and by which time Cobus had caught back up to me after packing away my stuff from T2. I then felt much better and ready to run. I loved the fast 15km down into the valley. And I also knew my quads would suffer for it later! I knew the climbs (total elevation 1000m) would be tough but I just tried to keep in a rhythm and if I needed to walk then 1 minute was plenty. The wind was still blowing and when I reached about 25km the rain started. It was like running in Scotland! After lovely sunshine earlier it was now 8c and horizontal rain! I should have taken a better rain jacket with me as mine was soaked through very quickly. But it did keep me from walking as I got too cold! I don’t know how the athletes behind me managed being out in that weather for so long.
My race nutrition worked pretty well for me and I only had an energy dip at about 30kms. Once I hit checkpoint 2 at 41km I felt great, also helped by the fact it was all flat and downhill from here! Except the sneaky little climb at the very end!
Cobus left me with 3kms to go, which turned out to be 4kms to go! He needed to drive around and be at the finish for when I came up through the track in the wood. My watch beeped 50kms and I began to think I’d missed the turn up to the finish. Fortunately a few hundred meters on I saw the arrow into the wood and the emotions kicked in. The final climb was short and steep and it completed a fantastic day of swim-bike-run!
I was delighted to take the win and 4th overall, in 12hrs 53mins.
Huge thanks to Cobus for being my supporter; driving behind me practically the whole way, giving me my nutrition, making sure I was warm enough and telling me to get a move on!!
Thanks to Dave (coach), Corne (bio) and Maureen (physio) and everyone for their support.
And thanks to Brett for my awesome Pavé trisuit and to the bike shops for mending my bike last week and my wheels the day before race day!
5km Swim: 01:44:18
174km Cycle: 06:13:56
50km Run: 04:51:43