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WPE Besancon France

Wow, where do I even begin this?

Arriving in Besancon France, I was informed that there was a possibility that we would not be permitted to swim in the river as there had been heavy rains leading up to our arrival. This naturally would be a disappointment and also be somewhat of a disadvantage as I race in a category with mixed disabilities (arm and leg amps). Nevertheless, it is what it is.

On Friday it was confirmed that the river had in fact got to a dangerous speed and so the competition was officially changed to a Duathlon. Now we would race 2.5km run, 20km cycle and 5km run. This was going to be interesting. I also don’t have a huge amount of experience in racing a duathlon. For those who don’t know, it’s very different to a triathlon as fatigue of muscles play a significant role.

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Race day arrived and although the weather was not great, the race was on.

The first run was tough as I ran completely out of my comfort zone, constantly trying to remind myself not to go too hard although I also did not want to fall back too far. The run was through parts of the town which presented its own challenges such as tight turns.

Into transition 1 and I was surprised and entertained to see the Dutch athlete – Sjaak van den Berg running out of transition and then back in again. I found out later on that he had arrived into transition, followed normal procedure and proceeded to take his bike to the exit of transition when he then realised that he still had his running shoes on!! So he had to do a loop within transition, re-rack his bike, remove his shoes and then try again.

Out onto the bike we went. On lap two the clouds opened and it began to rain which now meant the level of danger had just gone up. I pushed as hard as I could without neglecting safety and speed around corners etc. I managed to gain a position on the bike which was a positive for me as I knew the second run was going to pain.

Cycle done, maintained position, fast transition and onto second run!

Everything was now wet so the run course which was made up of huge sections of cobblestones became a nightmare for any amputee with a blade. Trying not to slip and needing to pick up the pace I pushed hard. So hard that I missed the turnaround point (they say it will happen to everyone at least once). This meant that I ended up running six km’s instead of five. Unfortunately this placed me last in my category. It did also provide much entertainment to the likes of Aidan McGlynn, my Irish mate and fellow athlete.

I must mention though that South Africa did make the podium thanks to a great performance by PT5 Visually impaired athlete David Jones and his Guide Phillip landing a 3 rd place after a great effort despite David running into a tree.

As they most often say, you can train as hard as you want; experience is one of the keys to getting better at anything – Lessons learnt!

20160618_11215020160619_13480520160619_140433Next stop, Grand Final Paratriathlon Championships in Rotterdam 22/23 July 2016.

WTS Cape Town – Race Report

My last local race for the season was Sunday where I competed in the WTS Cape Town Triathlon. It doubled up as the South African champs for the Para Triathletes so was important as I needed to secure more points towards my Rio qualification.

I was feeling confident about the race so I was relaxed. Meeting several people who were attempting their first triathlon, I was briefly reminded of how far I had come over the last 2 years. Remembering how nervous I was about the swim as a beginner.

My race went well although not entirely as planned due to a small glitch. As an amputee, I need to have my prosthetic waiting for me at the swim exit. Normally the exit is next to the start. On Sunday it wasn’t. So I had to rely on a volunteer to take my leg to the swim exit.

Coming out of the swim in first place, I looked for my leg, only to find it lying on the ground and not against the chair as requested. My leg had become soaked as every person exiting the water had wet it without even knowing – the net effect was my leg was soaking wet which is not a good thing. In fumbling with my prosthetic, I accidentally sat on my small towel which I would normally use to dry my leg and prosthetic. Now the towel was soaking wet too. I had no choice but to put my prosthetic on wet and hope for the best.

This obviously meant that I did not have the greatest cycle as I had no ‘pull’ from my right leg. I pushed and gave it my all.
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Into T2 I went where I had a second towel waiting for me. A quick dry of my leg and I managed to maintain my first place onto the run. I ran comfortably and knew I just needed to maintain the pace for the win.

Entering into the stadium, the crowd cheered as I made my way onto the blue carpet to once again take the title of PT4 South African Champion.

An even bigger surprise was waiting for me when I was called up onto the podium a second time for also placing 3rd overall in my age group against able bodied competitors. That was most certainly a highlight of my day.

What’s next…..well I’m in Stellenbosch for the next week on a Rio training camp with the rest of the South African triathlon team.

Thanks again for all my supporters and sponsors. Adrian from Aqua Athlete, Warren from Powerblast Training, Brandon from Biogen and No Excuses and Craig from MiWay.
And thank you to Triathlon SA for their support towards My journey to Rio.