Another 4:30 wake up Saturday morning 17th March, and No not for morning training, but time to catch another flight again to go race. What is on the menu this time round? The 2018 edition of The ATU African cup in Masselspoort in the Freestate.
Arriving at our homestay before midday. The question is, do some studying or go support the young talent of our sport racing the day before the main Elite race? Needless to say I chose the latter. And was treated to a spectacular sprint finish by two talented up and coming juniors, Ben de La Porte and Jamie Riddle.
Fast forward and it is race day, and it is a non wetsuit swim! Surprise. Not being the most efficient swimmer I definitely prefer the wetsuit legal swims, especially on an Olympic distance race ( 1.5km swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run), and to make it even more interesting the air temperature is also hovering around a mere 18 degrees celsius, and we may be in for some rain as well. Also awesome being ranked first and having to wait in the cold water for an extra three minutes for the other athletes being called out especially without a wetsuit. This is one of the biggest start lists at an SA-champs elite level for quite a while.
Anyways enough complaining from my side lets get to the race. Bad start, poor visibility and losing massive ground to the front guys on the swim is definitely not the ideal way to start a race, but then I always prefer a challenge coming from behind so no point in getting out the water in first place I guess. Ha!
On the bike, and in the famous words of Lionel Sanders “Now my race starts!” I find myself working together with another uber biker in Dylan Nortje and in our combined efforts manage to close the gap to the leaders quite quickly. Just before the halfway mark, I manage to open a small gap on a little uphill drag, oh well I thought, better make it stick now! I manage to open up a gap of about 90 seconds by the end of the bike to the chasing group. Always nice to time-trial solo without tt-bars. As I enter T2, officials tell me I will have to serve a 15 second penalty during the run course due to a “little” infringement or carelessness from my side I suppose. Great, I think to myself that means run hard, take a 15 second breather and repeat! I feel quite comfortable on the run and decide to only take the penalty at 7.5 km. Luckily by now the gap to 2nd place has grown to over 4 minutes so no rush. I manage to break the tape in first place. That is a first African victory for both myself and also for our country, Namibia at elite level. I think this was a good test for the Commonwealth Games coming up in a mere 18 days and shows me where to focus my last minute preparation on. All in all a good day out.
The final task before traveling home is to pack the bike back into the travelling bike-box, medal presentation and…. “ Sir you’ve been “randomly selected” for doping control.” Great my favorite words! Jokes aside though I am happy to comply in an attempt to keep our sport clean, it is just sometimes at the most inconvenient time. Ex, when you have less than an hour to get back to the airport to catch your flight! There is also two trick to this for those unfamiliar to this procedure. 1) If you don’t pee at least 90 ml into the cup or 2) Your urine sample isn’t above the specified level of 1.05 you are the lucky winner to repeat the whole process again from scratch. And believe me it does take time. Not ideal in my current situation so better make that first one count, it must be perfect.
After completing the “peeing test” I’m of to the airport in a hurry. Return the rental and luckily make the cut-off just in time. That’s all for now…