The Grand Final Championships was to be held in Rotterdam again this year. I was here last year for the world champs although I came stone last as I accidentally did an extra 4km’s on the bike route.
I was not going to do that again this year. I even went as far as placing 4 x pieces of tape onto my handlebars to ensure that I do the correct amount of laps.
I decided after last years race to also bring along my road bike and not my Tri-bike as the course was technical with not many long stretches. In total there was just over a hundred turns within the 20km cycle. And to top it all off, it had been raining all week and race day didn’t present a glimmer of possible sunshine either.
Rotterdam is a very clean and beautiful city with decent respect for bicycles and cyclists in general.
With the weather being as gloomy as what it was, I was only able to fit in one ride a few days before the race and a swim in the local pool. Race briefing brought about the knowledge that there was the possibility of the swim being cancelled and the event becoming a duathlon. I was praying and holding thumbs that this would not happen as I would then be out of contention for any podium. I also gave the swim course familiarization a skip due to really hard rain. Injury during course familiarization would have put my race at risk.
Race day arrived and the weather, although wet and overcast had played its part in allowing the swim to go on. We all lined up in our respective categories as our names were called out in introduction. It was go time.
Onto the pontoon, then into the water for a wet start. 3-2-1- GO!
As I pushed forward to get myself ahead in the swim, I must have done something wrong because I very quickly found myself at someone’s feet. Before I knew it, my goggles were kicked off with a solid foot to the face. I paused and looked around to see if I could see them but no luck! Dammit man! I couldn’t let this stop me, I had come too far for this so I stuck my face into the water and threw my arms forward.
Swimming without goggles is not a fine art or anything special, Its just something that very few people train for – myself included. I gave it what I could and feared that I had dropped to last although upon entering transition, I soon realized that I was not last.
I grabbed my bike, ran out and mounted it in such a professional manner it was good enough to feature in a triathlon magazine. Cycle leg clipped in, toes into shoe and then the strap came loose. I don’t even know how this was possible but somewhere in loading my bike into T1 earlier, I must have pulled the strap out of my shoe – Disaster number 2!
Gave the cycle everything I could with the loose shoe. In hindsight, it would have been way better had I stopped, corrected the mistake and continued – lessons learnt!
Off the bike and onto my run. I knew that I hadn’t given enough to be in line for a podium although I decided to appreciate the fact that I was representing my country as the only Elite para triathlete at the Grand final! I ran with as much rhythm and comfort as possible. Had my fastest run to date which was a really great feeling.
Finishing strong in what I thought wasn’t a great race, I ended up placing 9th overall. I’m very happy with that!
Being able to represent my country on a world championship level is something that makes me extremely proud. It is what makes all the early morning training sessions worth it. It was also made super awesome because I was fortunate enough to be able to have my beautiful wife Melissa and my two gorgeous Daughters there to share the moment with me!
I take away a few lessons learnt from this year of racing as well as a great achievement. Top ten in the world!
Perhaps a possibility of a national award once I return home, who knows…watch this space!