I knew I wasn’t going to be fresh coming into the race after already racing 3 big events within the last 2 months, the last two of them being over the time zones, one in San Diego and the other in Yokohama. I also didn’t get the opportunity to rest as well as I wanted to for this event.
With good form right out of Yokohama I was confident for a good result. My plan was to see how the race unfolds and play it safe, because I didn’t want to blow up towards the end. It all worked out very well.
I had probably my easiest swim in a triathlon yet, I tried a couple of times to stretch the field to shake off some athletes, and ended up with a group of 4 which included fellow South Africans Wian Sullwald and Wikus Weber, and David from Great Britain. We worked well together on a course that was a little harder than it seemed.
We were clear from any chasers which meant the podium would be decided between the 4 of us. I felt good on the run. The pace in the first 5km wasn’t fast at all, so I tried surging a couple of times to maybe get a gap and hopefully hurt the legs of Wian and Wikus. They were running really well and sticking to my pace. Wian took out the next 5km very fast. Wikus soon fell off and I was just trying to hang on. With about 2km to go Wian tired up and slowed down, I tried to keep the pace up by surging a couple of times but it wasn’t enough and the title came down to a sprint. The last Km I kept the pace up and with about 300m to go I went for it. Wian hung on but soon fell off and I took the Elite African Championship Title for the first time. It was truly one of my most special moments when I crossed the line.
Well done to Wian and Wikus for some really good racing in 2nd and 3rd.
It has been a really great year so far. My performance compared to last year is worlds apart. I have massively improved on the ITU rankings where I am now 45th and 20th on the World Triathlon Series Rankings. To put it into perspective, I received my first ITU points ever only last year in Feb!
All of it comes easier with great support from my family, friends and girlfriend. My parents have funded all my trips so far and I am so thankful for that. All prize money goes straight back to them allowing me to compete in more international races. The companies that believe in me including FINIS, Huub Design, Cytomax, Puma and Classic eyes. Thank you all for your great support!
Now I get a little rest before I need to complete some training in preparation for the remainder of the World Triathlon Series.
During the last two weeks before the African Championships in Le Morne – Mauritius, the ‘unknown injury’ in my legs (which doctors think might be related to my back and pinching nerves) was much better and I decided that I would compete in the race. I struggled again on the Tuesday & Wednesday leading up to the event but it didn’t affect me, I think, because I didn’t feel it over the weekend and during the race.
So with a positive attitude, myself and most of the RSA team, we took to the skies and landed on the beautiful island on Thursday afternoon. We checked into a very nice 4 star hotel which is like a village on the beach, and made our way to the buffet dinner where we were spoiled with the taste of amazing food every night!
Friday was pre-race warm up day for me, starting with a nice swim in the pool followed by breakfast. I then cycled about 30min along the coast with beautiful scenery the whole way. Later I slipped my shoes on and went for a run to stretch the legs out, and goodness it was hot! I then spoiled myself with a good lunch and relaxed the rest of the day.
Saturday was race day and woke up at 6 to eat and get ready for the 7am bus trip to the venue. The race venue was an amazing place to race at, just the heat was quite bad!
At 9.15 our race got underway and I had a relatively slow start to everyone else but after 400m I was in the front controlling things like I usually do. A group of 4 managed to get a 50second gap out onto the bike consisting of myself, Erhard Wolfaard (RSA), Ospaly (CZE) and a Moroccan athlete. We worked well together but I was struggling on the brutal climb we did 6 times. The last time going up I lost the wheel of Erhard and Ospaly and was caught by Felgate (ZIM) and the Moroccan. Felgate being very tactical attacked just before T2 but I managed to bridge the gap coming into transition.
I slipped my shoes on and ran off for the 10km run. I started a little slower because I wasn’t feeling strong at all and as soon as I picked up the pace my body packed up and I found myself just making it to the finish. I had too many DNF before and came along way to race so I wasn’t going to give up. Soon during the run I started getting cold shivers and very lame and no feeling in my arms. I can’t tell you exactly what happened but with a very demanding bike course and heat it all took its toll on me in the run. I may have suffered from some heat stroke. I recovered after a couple hours and enjoyed my stay until we left the next day. I was 6th across the line and 5th elite. I also missed out on very valuable ITU points because I wasn’t within 5% of the winners’ time.
I am disappointed but it’s also just another card of experience I gained and that’s something no one can give you. A big congrats to Richard Murray (RSA) for his second African title and Erhard in silver!
A special thanks to ATU for a great event, TSA and Lindsey Parry for their help and support as well as Finis and Team FutureLife.