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February 17, 2011

Garmin Westcoast Warmwater Weekend

This past weekend I opted to pack the car with 4 bikes, a case of Jack Black, running shoes, girlfriend, duvets and a load of high expectation and made a beeline (ok, we got lost) for the Westcoast National Park out on the R27, less than an hour from Cape Town. The Garmin Westcoast Warmwater Weekend (here-forth now called the GWWW) was happening for the 2nd time and last year I missed out, prepping for Cape Epic.

I heard about the gees, the vibe and the food. I was more interested in giving the legs a go all weekend and eating as much as I pleased, to be dead honest. The chance to mellow out and not take it too seriously, however, was a big draw card for everyone who arrived. The field may have been limited due to the park being, essentially, a museum for natural beauty, but it lacked nothing in quality. Dan Hugo, Lieuwe Boonstra, Richard Murray, etc.

Our first dinner was lovely, quiet and it was a dead heat between the beef and the ice cream for awesomeness points. These things happen. We all made our way to The Stables (not some fancy shmancy name for a resort with horses, but actual horse stables) where we rested our excited heads for a nights rest before the triathlon in the morning.

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Now it’s fair to say Cape Town is beautiful. But to wake up and drive to the race with the views we had was very special. The “transition” was nicely informal and the bay was calm with a mild wind coming up slowly. In what was to become the weekend standard, a standard “Ingpen Mile” is roughly 1.2 miles. The race start came all too soon and we were in the water, swimming in knee deep azure mind blowing circumstances and I had to remind myself that this was actually a race as I drifted off the front 3 sets of feet at the end of lap 1. I lost contact with the guys there and let them go, content to save something for a bit later. I know Paul likes his courses tough.

I was about 1:30 down at the end of the swim and in 5th place out of transition, knowing I had to work hard on the bike, but content that the work I have been doing this year has been great. A greatly reduced training load (12 hours max a week this year, more or less vs around 20 a year ago, due to various commitments) meant that I would be relatively fresh. The ride route is fantastic because it’s open, there is nowhere to hide, you have to turn a big gear from start to end and really, it rewards those who want to do the work.

At halfway I was already 5min down on Dan, he was showing the work he has done on his time trial bike in the last year has not been without purpose, 3min down on Lieuwe and I was about 2min up on Nic Muhl who was riding out of his shoes at this point. It hurt on the way back, never quite sure where the wind was coming from. I had to work hard all the time and ticked off the kilometers with a beep on the Garmin.

It must be noted I have been playing with nutrition lately and have found a way to hyperload my bottles with enough calories without the drink being mega sweet, eliminating the need for gels. More on that in a few weeks once all the testing is done.

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Onto the run and I was told I was 2:30 down on Lieuwe Boonstra, clawing back some seconds on the way back. Nic was nowhere to be seen so I set off on the 11km run which included sand, surf, sand, road, sand, eland and more sand. At times, the sand was roughly calves depth and I was cursing Paul in language that is reserved for the worst of the worst. I was, however, catching Lieuwe and had him at 8km. This was a new experience for me. I had never caught him in ANY race in my life. Aware of the caliber athlete I was dealing with, I tried to get rid of him ASAP as I knew he was much faster in any form of sprint than I could ever hope to be.

I, however, was burning at around 10.5 out of 10 at this point. As we got off the beach sand, I went as hard as I could up the hill to get rid of him. By that, I mean I was running flat out with little surges for about 1km up a pretty steep hill at around 3:30 per km. That was what I had. I was breathing so hard I couldn’t hear my feet on the tar. He held to the top of the hill. Then, as we hit the peak, Lieuwe attacked. I tried as hard as I could to go with him. I checked the Garmin and I was going 3min per km and losing ground. Sneaky freaking russian had me. When we hit Preekstoel I had made peace with 3rd and took off my shoes for the trot in the water. Jogging in with a smile on my dial, I finished well and in a week where there was no rest, a great result. Dan was in a class of his own I tell you.

The afternoon was spent napping and eating before more eating and sleeping in lieu of the 14km (actually 17km) trail run in the morning and the 24km (actually 36km) mountain bike ride just afterward.

For the Sunday, all I can say is that I cruised both “races” as most of us did, enjoying the scenery and making friends along the way. The chance to cruise with mates in one of the most beautiful places you will ever go was apt reward for the previous days work.

If you missed out on this weekend, I highly suggest you get entries in early next year. It’s simply an incredible experience from passionate organisers filled with lovely people and moments that take your breath away. A special thanks to Electric Ink, Gamin and Oakley for putting on the event. We`ll be back…

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