RACE REPORTS

Peter Gatangi

Coming off a major high after the 2018 World Champs in PE, my last race was IM 70.3 Dubai [Feb 2019] stretching my last level of fitness to my fastest half distance tri -mainly due to the course and weather conditions.

2019 and 2020 was a welcomed break but the physical and travelling restrictions kind of get you edgy. The outdoors felt great again and the freedoms we once sometimes took for granted were suddenly missed and treasured – racing included. I enjoy most things tough because the rewards are opposingly as pleasant so 2021 East London 70.3’s seed was planted.

After 10 weeks of some solid build up training I was totally gutted after hearing that public gatherings and sporting events were cancelled and thus the race deferred. Well patience pays so I took it a bit easy for a couple of weeks and did not focus on anything until I had R2S in sight -March 2021.

R2S is dubbed the ‘beautifully brutal’ race – stunning sweeping views of large farmlands & vineyards on the bike [if you get a chance to side glance]; mowed lawns and gardens along the Kleinrivier on the run, the lovely tree canopy through the trail section. The brutal part is that it is a tough course; the hills are unending before and after Shaws Pass- 1604m elevation gain. Once off the bike the twists and turns, ups and downs, tar and gravel, stairs and grass welcome you to historic & picturesque Stanford.

Hermanus is a lovely quaint town and the race morning sunrise was stunning. The water temperature on the other hand was between 12 and 14 degrees – freezing by all accounts and we brushed off the race briefing warnings naively with “I’ll swim faster”. With two numb right-hand fingers midway into the swim I couldn’t believe how I had no ‘catch’ with every stroke. Out of the water in 35min and I realised my toes were not mine. T1 was in slow motion; turning the dial on my cycling shoes, clipping my helmet, race belt etc. was an out of body experience.

Flash into the cycle and some sensations began to come back especially after 12% hill gradients that spike the heart rate.  With all system in check at 40km on the bike I get to see a 3T teammate who is a good swimmer [coach’s lane], means I’ve made up some good time on the bike. TT up and down hills and more hills until we transition together into T2 where his practiced transition sets him off a few 5-6 strides ahead of me. Since we train together, I blurt out for him to take it easy[ier] as we start off and I get the shoulder shrug. Well, I’ll never see him again I told myself so lets get on with it.

No that the sun came out in all its glory, 28-29 degrees which can try any runner’s hydration plan. The legs were screaming murder after 2 years of not racing let alone the hills they had to grind through, then why did I choose this race again?? Ok, default to a pace that’s comfortable, don’t expect fire works and try enjoy the run and make it to the finish line.

On the second lap of four I get to run into my partly struggling 3T teammate. He tells me he’s broken; his legs have given in, heart rate is all over the pace and he’s hot. I encourage him to ‘sit’ with me at an easy pace and we’ll make it but he fades away. Lap 3 was the toughest; every step felt like torture, it felt like I was running backwards every time the experienced trail runners would pass me in ‘their’ terrain. Lap 4 a little more encouraging, maybe because I kept passing many people [perhaps on their 2nd or 3rd laps] but it seemed like I was progressing. There comes the finish line and the endorphins jump right out of very crevice they have been suppressed in for the last 5hours 39 minutes..  ‘I survived Shaws Pass’ and I raced again, wow what a feeling! This makes East London look like little brother!

I wait for my 3T teammates to cross the line and congratulate them on bringing it home. They are equally excited about racing once again which reminds me how much I love and enjoy the sport, meeting people through the sport and the travelling that comes along with it. A weekend away in Hermanus with family crowned it, more so after an unexpected 3rd place age group finish.

The 3T gang is incredible; athletes ready to train no matter the weather and participate in almost every available sporting event in the country- absolutely inspiring!

The coaches do an amazing job in moulding and shaping us mentally and physically into the best amateur athletes we can be – that’s what some of us need to achieve many goals in life and for that we stick together like family.

A big thanks to Natalie & Ray – Beautiful & Brutal  😉

Jacqui Bunge

Mnweni Marathon

When people ask how it went my words are wow.

That was one of the toughest things I have done. Physically and mentally. The rain started on Thursday night and literally did not stop. I woke up hourly on Friday evening and listened to the rain pouring down! At 1:30 it stopped and I was grateful 🥲 however it started again from 3. Driving to the start we weren’t sure if this was going to happen! According to the race director it was touch and go. His words at the start “if you feel this is beyond you, step back now. No one will judge you”

Essential race gear included thermals, waterproof puffer jackets and water proof pants added on the Wednesday to our already daunting essential gears list (space blankets, water and 200 calories of food Incase).

Download the race as the course is partially marked. 3 water stations that may or may not be there due to the conditions up the mountain 🏔 fill up when you can!

As we ran off we made a decision to fall back and run with our friends 🏃‍♂️ 🏃‍♀️ 🏃‍♀️ today was about getting everyone off the mountain safely.

I think we ran through every terrain. Fields of rock, such long grass you couldn’t see the person in front of you, river crossings that were waist deep in parts and at the top we had snow ❄️ I kept getting asked why I didn’t take spare socks 🧦- we were literally constantly drenched dry socks wouldn’t last very long 😂🤣 it rained 70/80% of the run. And I use that term loosely as I couldn’t run much of that 😂🤣

The idea was to get to the top and keep running there to keep warm.

Elevation of 2008m altitude sickness was a thing. Dizziness, coughing, and swollen hands. You couldn’t stop or turn back (as we had seen a few do on our way out). 

It was beautiful and amazing to be up there were few people have been. The plants, the waterfalls and the views although misty took your breath away.

After reaching the top and taking our mandatory snow ❄️ pics calling out your race number to a frozen person in a tent ⛺️ so he could monitor who made it to the top – our aim was to make it down as quickly as possible.

We could not find the pink markers sliding on our bums on the wet grass as it was tricky to walk down using multiple gps systems “batch 2” regrouped. Together we did it. Slow and steady our group split in two at a treacherous section but we all made it to the end.

Freezing 🥶 and soaked to the bone 🦴

“It demonstrated that when we approach our limits, when we take that extra step, we open up incredible opportunities. Many had a day that will be a mark in their lives forever but of course this can only come with some risk. Calculated risk. It relies on both the organizing team and the participants to know their limits and be brave enough to step away sometimes.

Well done to everyone for making good decisions and all helping one another achieve epic things in the mountains.”  Andrew race director

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