November 21, 2011

70.3 First Timer Tips


Ironman 70.3 in Buffalo City is unlike any other half ironman in the world. The conditions are unique, the course is unique and therefor it requires some specific preparation.

The best gear to race in is whatever you are comfortable in. I prefer a 2 piece triathlon specific outfit. Have a look at for more information.

In terms of training before the race here are a few things you can insert into your riding.

Hill repeats – there are many hills in this race on the bike, and 2 big ones on the run too. Make sure you are comfortable and know how to pace the hills.

Open water swims – make sure you get used to swimming in open water. It’s an adaptation from the pool and can leave some people a little panicked. Get comfortable.

Bad weather riding – if it’s raining, head out there to know what it feels like to ride in the rain. On race day, you may have no other option.


The Swim is a 1 lap swim. It’s farking cold, so a wetsuit is mandatory. Not wearing a wetsuit places you in the “HIGH5MEINTHEFACE” category. Last year, it was 11 degrees.

Use Body Glide under the arms and around your neck to avoid chafe.

When choosing to warm-up or not, consider that you may have to stand there on the beach after your warm-up cold. If it’s raining, spend the time on the beach warming up with a decent routine of arm swings, stretching and mental psyching up. Find your power animal.

Start towards the right if you are a weaker swimmer to avoid the bunching up around the first buoy. Don’t get involved in kicking and punching, as karma is a patient animal and will bite you back.

Near the end of the swim kick a little more, warming up the legs a little more for the run.

It’s a long run to T1 so prepare yourself for a little slog. Don’t sprint up the beach. There is a nasty little hill to T1.

Transition 1

Take. Your.Time.

Be friendly with the volunteers and have them help you. Keep it to the basics when it comes to keeping stuff in your bag.

The following should be ON your bike: Gels, Bars, Energy Drinks, Shoes (if you`re speedy and put them on once riding)

In your bag: Shoes (if you`re not comfortable putting your feet into shoes while the bike is moving), Helmet, Sunglasses.

If it’s hot, ask the volunteers to sunscreen you to bits. Smile and say thank you.


Your first thought will be “Whoooooaaaa I`m on the bike already”. Soon, it will become “WTF was I thinking entering this race”. The first 45km at East London are tough. 815m vertical gain on the way out, often in the rain, always in the wind.

Take your time and ride steady, varying between sitting and standing. Focus on being light and riding strong, but not hard.

Have fun on the way back. It’s a fast trip back to T2. In the last 5km, spin the legs at a high cadence to ready them for the higher turnover on the run.

Transition 2

In the bag: Shoes, socks, visor, a cup of HTFU.

You`ll be feeling it, but you can still run well, I promise. Focus on running light along the peer and ready yourself for the longish hill on each of the 2 laps. Take water, coke, gels off the route. Focus on the finish, you CAN deal with the pain – it`ll be gone sooner than later and faster if you run faster.

Have fun. High 5 some volunteers. Your mind is your greatest weapon at this point. Use it.


Walk. Slowly. Soak it up.

Zip up your top, wash your face at the last aid station. Nobody likes a finish photo with snot across their faces and coke all over their shoulders.


Eat smart, be merry and dance on the tables. Official Urban Ninja instructions.


If you have any more queries, there are still pre-built programs available for the race and I will offer all the advice and help you need in them.


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