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January 10, 2011

Totalsports Challenge Race Report

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photo credit Brett Nattrass

Saturday saw the running of the Totalsports Challenge from Gordons Bay to Kleinmond. It was a preparation race for me, with the idea being to give it some good stick on the bike rides and hold tight on the run legs so that we can sharpen the pencil a little more for 70.3 in 2 weeks time. A year ago I got dropped on the ride at about 5km and had to solo ride between 2 packs, run on my own, ride on my own and beach run on my own. Lots of time to think about how much I was suffering.

I walked quite a bit on the mountain bike last year. I cramped very badly on the beach run. I was tired, sore and on the verge of injury afterward.

The event comprises a 50km road ride, a 13km road run, 27km mountain bike, 9km beach run. A big field of 250 guys took off on the ride on a crisp, fresh summers morning in Gordons Bay. Teams of 2 and 4 also joined the individual athletes, who were trying to save energy and sit in the pack. The road ride is super smooth for the first 30km and there are really only 3 hills to split the bunch up, so I made sure to be near the front every time the attacks were sure to come. I made the break each time with relative ease, only once being pushed into the red zone and even trying my hand at getting a small group off the front once, to no avail. There was simply too much fire power in the group, with us easily averaging around 40km/h even into the headwind. I handled the constant surging well and was impressed that there was already some “jump” in my legs, only 2 weeks after Epic Unsupported Tour.

I had made a pact with myself to not run faster than 4min per km on the road run. I wanted to see how easily I could make that happen after a decent ride and test out what can now be called the Raelert-Stoltz approach of opening your jersey as wide as possible and giving the stomach air to cool the body down. It looks quite silly, very old school 80’s triathlon, but it seemed to work. (as a sidenote, when using this approach, remember to apply extra sunscreen).

I was cruising along the flats at 4min per km and keeping the body in check and realised quite quickly that the organisers had made the vital error of missing a water stop along the route. Once you are dehydrated it’s super tough to come back and I made sure to take it as easy as possible to avoid this for the beach run.

The mountain bike leg last year was my achilles heel. I walked, I crashed (a few times), I virtually gave up all sport in there somewhere. This year was not going to be the same. A year’s better conditioning and I was away pretty quickly, passing some guys in the first few kilometers up the long hill once off the tar. I passed 2 of the guys in my race and could see my next victim when we hit the treacherous downhill. It’s a gnarly patch of road with ruts, dongas and thousands upon thousands of sharp rocks on a vicious decline.

I heard it before I felt it, I was going too fast to stop and just kept going.

A big, sharp sound of rock on vital component to keep moving. Something in that vain. All I felt was that there was no tension on the chain. I could pedal like my soles were made of thin glass and even then, it slipped the chain enough that I bent it badly, all still on the downhill. at 21km, I still had 6km to go and when I hit the first flat section before the next uphill, I realised my race was over. I had to run/walk in carbon bike soled shoes (try running in a shoe with a stainless steel sole, for example – it’s not very forgiving) on every flat or uphill piece of road for the next 6km, only able to freewheel the last 2 downhills home, where I was watching with much care to make sure the chain didn’t end up in the wheels, which would have ended not only this race, but potentially also my 70.3 hopes as well as the rest of the season. So I chilled and made sure to get into the next transition carefully and take the last run very easily, the group of contenders now quite a way ahead of me. All in all, I reckon it cost me 10minutes or so until the end of the bike leg and I made the call to run easy as the tide was perfect for a nice run.

Had it been like last year, I would probably have quit there and saved the legs. Last year we had high tide and soft sand and running in knee deep water.

I took a whole bottle of juice with me on the last run, took in one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and mentally found the points to take forward from the race.

1. The road bike ride went really well. I was not in serious difficulty once and was a protagonist in the group.
2. The road run went smooth. Smoother than expected after my hip niggle and then the ankle niggle towards the end of last year.
3. The mountain bike was great. I felt in control and was making up time on almost everyone by this point, my energy savings on the run being the main reason.

Those 3 facts had me smiling and waving to the choppers, high five-ing other competitors and enjoying my last run far more than I should have, but I was happy with the overall feeling, even if the result was not what I hoped for.

Thank you to Stillwater Sports for another world class event, barring loo paper availability at the start and a missing water stop. The rest was fantastic. Thank you to all my sponsors who really made the day possible. Morewood, Black Spade Racing, Puma, Velocity Sports Lab, Fairbairn Private Bank, Garmin, BoE Private Clients. Life is good with amazing partners like you are.

A special thank you to Le Fatone & his Tickets for their amazing support on the day. It’s quite a logistical nightmare getting bikes, running shoes and moody athletes from one point to the other during the day. You were amazing.

One Comment on “Totalsports Challenge Race Report

michael meyer
January 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

Thanks for the great race report.
where was the missing waterpoint Raoul?
Michael

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