Its been a busy 2 months from a racing perspective – 70.3 East London, Xterra PE, Xterra Grabouw… but still the top step of the podium eludes me, it was time to step up… I felt pretty good coming into the race and confident that I would stick to my own plan and race hard at this iconic event.
The veterans of our sport speak of the Durban Ultra as the holy grail of triathlons in South Africa. It has a rich history and winning this triathlon solidy engraves your name into the history books of one of our country’s most prestigious endurance events.
Race morning greeted us with an absolute pearler. Very different from my previous visit to Durban just a couple of months back. Calm sea, warm water and windless conditions set the tone for a beautiful day of racing. The sea was a steamy 25.7C° so needless to say no wetsuits allowed. The forecast for Durban was mid thirties, compounded by humidity, this was going to be a race of attrition.
I swam pretty comfortably in a group of about 5 guys, some 45sec off the early pace setters of Glen Gore, Jeren Siegers and Rudolph Naude.
I set off on the bike leg and felt my legs weren’t feeling as fresh as I might have liked. I guess the downside of doing so much racing in a short space of time doesn’t allow your body a chance to fully recover from precious efforts and you only find that out once you open the taps… I settled in to where I felt comfortable. The bike course allows for some very speedy riding, but it demands respect – the heat and rolling hills can make you pay on the second loop if you’re not careful.
I quickly moved to the front and found myself with 2 companions for the 90km bike – Gerhard de Bruin and Rudolph Naudé seemed up to the challenge.
I put in one or two efforts on the first loop to try to dislodge them, they followed and I wasn’t too upset to have company.
We opened up a large gap to the chase group and headed towards home again I felt nice and strong.
By this stage the heat was really testing us. The type of humidity which grips you from everywhere and drains every ounce of energy out of your system. As I said, a race of attrition. I ticked off the km’s and opened up a solid lead on the rest. I would like to say I could enjoy the run, but this heat pretty much sapped all of my enthusiasm and all I could think of was a post race dip in the ever inviting Indian Ocean….
The race to me was something of a bitter sweet scenario… Matty Trautman aka ‘The Captain’ was still recovering from a horrific bike accident earlier this year. We’ve had some good duals in the past and although he was here, it was as supporter/MC/cheerleader – I would have much preferred to have him on thebstart line, giving me a lesson in ‘how to harden up and win’ . On the positive side, stoked to see him recovering fast and I echoe the sentiments of the entire triathlon community… look forward to seeing his return to the top of the sport.
So I claimed the top step on the podium and with that the title of SA Long Course Triathlon champion.
Thank you to all of those for giving me the chance to keep living my dream.
Massive thanks to Damian and his BACTIVE team for bringing the Durban Ultra back and well done on setting the standard for world class event organisation. Proudly South African.