This was more than a race, it was a learning experience and a journey to the lands of Belgium. Normally I would write the normal race report about how the swim/bike and run went, but this time its different as I will tell you what really went down on my journey to the ITU European cup in Belgium.
Sit back and make a cup of tea/koffie as this race report is going to be a good one!
Last week i started planning on how to get to Brasschaat/ Antwerpen for the ITU European Cup Race on the 27th June. This took some time with emailing, chatting to people and trying to find the best way to travel the some 700km+ to Belgium. Unfortunately planning isn’t in my daily schedule and thus in triathlon is my weakest link! I bought the tickets the day before i left on the Friday, which cost me big time as the trains were full!! I soon found a return ticket at a better price and decided i would travel to Giesen, and them by car with Holger Grummer to Antwerpen. The train trip was interesting and very fast! As the train did 250km/h which was sweet . Holger and I Arrived late to the Race office for registration and thus I needed to Enter the following day at 3pm-5pm The following day I needed to get to Brasschaat about 10km from Antwerpen where I was staying. I needed to find a bus or some way to get there so I could register and do the swim route.
Taking a bus with your bicycle is Brasschaat was not possiblso i cycled down to the swim start . I soon found out from a fellow X -RSA athlete that there were 2 transitions one for the swim-bike and the other from bike-run… Now I was confused now! Wow. Things from here on went great and i cycled back to my hotel where I would get ready for my big race the following day. I was quite stressed as getting to the race I would need to cycle with my racing wheels, and they are tubbys so which meant NOT getting a flat on the way down to the race.
Morning of the race and I woke up Full of excitement and focus for my hard task at hand! Down to the bus stop I went and I was determined to get on a bus with my bicycle. TRY STOP me in from South Africa BOET!! I went down to the bus stop and practically started crying and begging the bus driver to take me and my steed to the race. The bus driver gave in !! yay, so i got into the bus and made my way to the Bredabaan where the cycle route was.
Putting my running shoes into T2 I now had 3H30 before the start of my race and it was 10km back to my hotel. This meant sleeping under a tree like a bergie for a hour or so before i made my way to T1 with the Italian Team. It was quite lonely being the only athlete from RSA at the race so I had to join some team!
Onto T1 and I had racked my bicycle and was getting ready for sleep 2 under some trees before I would start my warm up…. although it was already 29degrees, I actually needed to cool down!
I found a soft piece of grass next to a spanish guy and we were soon almost blowing zzzzzzzzzz. I saw that other athletes were starting their warm up so I acted just like a sheep and did the same. I forgot to bring 2 pairs of running shoes with me as my bag couldn’t fit everything. My racing shoes were 6km away so I decided to warm up on the tar bare foot like good old days of cross-country..
I felt great and the other athletes must have been thinking shame poor RSA athlete can’t afford racers AND trainers! I soon realized that the tar was very hot , so got into the lake for a warm up swim. Before I knew it they were lining us up. I was STONE last on the Pontoon but a challenge is always what I like, life without challenges is boaring^-^.
I remember thinking just before swim start “ feet + bubbles = good race!” BANG! And the gun went off. We were on our first straight of 360meters with a cracking speed! Diving of the pontoon was SO cool, really felt like a pro J In the swim I realized I started with a 50m disadvantage but I didn’t let this get me down. I swam my heart out and was soon following some SEXY feet in front of me. At the first bouy “there you go mommy spelt if correct” it was the usual except for it wasnt me getting drowned but me drowning others.. How much fun!!! I was finally swimming in a race with top athletes, my goal achieved..
In the swim I knew that I was losing time on the leaders, but I was happy with just seeing bubbles in front of me. In the swim we did 2 laps of 750meters and we had to get out and run over the pontoon before going out for the second lap, this I liked.
I got into a smooth rhythm on the swim, some where between “wow this hurts and this hurts” and felt like hard work in the pool has FINALLY started to show me that I can swim with the field.
Into transition and I was >>>>>>>>> behind the leaders, which meant a hard cycle would be in order. I was actually thinking this is cool, I will have a bunch. Soon we started to kick up a gear and we FLEW out of transition and onto the cycle route which was 4.5km till T2 then 6 laps of the cycle route.
A Guy with the surname “Dirtchen I think was” was setting a cracking pace at the start of the bicycle and from here on I knew we would have a really fast bike split. We were doing about 45-50km/h average for the first 4-6km and was battling to sit in the draft!!
We soon settled down and started rolling through at a great pace, everyone doing their fair share of work. The bicycle route was flat as can be and went over about 400meters of cobble stones every lap. The cycle course rocked! I will admit that this cycle was the fastest 40km I have ever done and we managed to hit 42.4km/h average which is just insane!.
T2 was in the main road the Bredabaan in Brasschaat and was covered with purple matting. Coming into transition 2 was interesting as I have never been into a transition with 35 triathletes at once. I managed to get out of transition about 9th and was getting ready for a hard run in the heat.
I Felt super and got into a pace that was about 3min/km so I didn’t head out at 2:45-2:50min/km. I was starting to pass some good opposition on the run and never once did it cross my mind that I would get top 10. I was just in that zone you get where nothing else matters except for here and now. I was running at my quickest pace with knowing in mind that at the end of the race i wouldn’t need an ambulance. Hotter and hotter it got and I started to feel my feet chaffing from all the water I through on myself in my new puma running shoes. The black pieces of tar holding the concrete slabs together on the road were soft and sticky, which in my mind said it was hot in Brasschaat!.
The last stretch of road and I realized I had got a top 10, 4th place would be mine for the race and I soon felt adrenalin flowing through my body as the streets were lined with spectators cheering.
This to me was like winning my First World Duathlon title in Gyor Hungary, as it is the start of something positive and beautiful in my career. I find nothing impossible if you have the will, dedication and complete focus to obtain it.
On my journey back to Sigmaringen, I just made my train in Giesen. Unfortunately my second train the IC 2295 was cancelled and I had to wait for more than 2h20min for the next train to come that would pick me up from Darmstadt Hbf and take me to Stuttgart. The train was late ,but soon came and I was on my way to Stuttgart! In Stuttgart there was now no train to Sigmaringen so I had to board a train to Tubingen and catch a Taxi to Sigmaringen…
Below are the Results and a Photo of me showing off!