TRIROCK DURBAN, half Ironman distance triathlon. 1,9 Km swim, 90 Km bike, 21.1 Km run.

25 September 2013

TRIROCK DURBAN, half Ironman distance triathlon. 1,9 Km swim, 90 Km bike, 21.1 Km run.
Article by: Frank Smuts


An admin glitch had me with no place to sleep on Friday night 20 October, 22H30. I was in Durban, for the first time in 17 years. Leaning with weary eyes on the reception counter of the Garden Court South Hotel, I was overcome with self pity. I might just as well have been on the moon, so lost I felt. After some begging and a few phone calls, I was allowed to my room with a view. Nót the sea view. The other side. It made The Bronx look like Zimbali Lodge.

It all started with a call from Tiaan, CEO of Tri-Plex multi sport team, of which I am a proud member. “How would you like to go do the TriRock Durban? Half Ironman distance: 1, 9 km swim, 90 Km bike and 21,1 Km run! All expenses paid, except air ticket?” Still on a quest for a happy childhood, how could I say no?


The Saturday morning before race-Sunday, I once again, with an air of defiance, refused to do any swim, bike or run warm ups. With only a lame winter program to rely on for an estimated 5 hour race at max heart rate, things were as good as it was ever gonna get. After all, if a swim style resembling a Duracell bunny in blender doesn’t warm you up for the bike leg, nothing will.

Whilst trying to fight myself into a substantial pre-race night’s sleep, I realized with a bang that I forgot tyre levers, neccesary to take a bicycle tyre off the rim in case of a puncture! So, at 22H00 on Saturday night I found myself sneaking into the pitch dark dining hall, looking for two teaspoons to fulfill that role. With a mixture of guilt and relief, I got back to my room, clutching two “borrowed” teaspoons and battled myself to sleep, once again!


On Sunday morning, after final set ups in the transition area, the starting gun got us charging into the sea at 7H00 like Mxit addicts at a free BlackBerry handout. The sea was flat and crystal clear. I could see little fish swimming. That made me realize that big grey fish, with even bigger teeth, could see me swimming! Minutes started to feel like hours, but after 1, 9 K’s and 34 minutes of thrashing the ocean, I exited without any bite marks.


I ran frantically into T1, only to hear that Lawrence, my main agegroup rival, left on the bike leg round about 2000 BC. So, I pedalled, and pedalled, with my thoughts see-sawing between the acceptance of an early defeat and the motivational mumbo jumbo of “it’s not over till it’s over”.

My ride was heavenly uneventful, except for becoming public enemy no.1 by reprimanding blatant “drafters” in an extremely undiplomatic fashion. (Fatique seems to erode human courtesy.) Opportunistic slip streaming just wasn’t good enough for these bikers. They actually executed perfect rotation like a well oiled Tour de France team. They told me short stories involving the maternal side of my family. Blissfully, 90 Km’s and 2 hours 32 minutes later, I found myself on my bum in T2, grapling my brand new Puma FAAS 300 running shoes onto my feet.


Somehow, I felt exceptionally light on my feet. But I know that at 10 K’s the dreaded sugar-low would be lurking to switch off my energy levels faster than Eishkom could do it on a Saturday night at a Superdome international rock band concert.

1 Km into the run I realized I forgot to put on my race belt with my race number. Might that mean a disqualification?! I mental-battled through 647 explaniations to the race director why it was not my fault. But…I had a plan. I will finish with my race belt. Just watch!

10 Km came and I nervously awaited the sugar low! I am still waiting. I commited to using 32Gi throughout the race. Without trying to explain, I will give 32Gi the credit. And NOT because they are a generous sponsor. For the first time EVER, after 5 previous half Ironman races, I felt the way I visualized the race to be like! I felt stronger than Lance ever felt. And it was legal! At Km 17 I knew it would last and I accepted that life can be good. If anyone was going to beat me today, feeling the way I did, I would acknowledge defeat graciously. He would be the better man.

After a run of 1 Hour and 39 minutes for 21,1 K’s and 4 hours 53 minutes for total race time, the race commentator announced me as agegroup winner as I crossed the finish line. By the way, I had my racebelt on. Anyone who can figure out how I got it wins a holiday for one in Worcester. (Douglas Burger knows that a friend in need is a pain in the…)


Somewhat later I graciously accepted a stunning, hand made wire-and-bead replica of the Moses Mabida stadium as trophy for first place. And then Dougie and family deposited me in style at the Ushaka airport for my Cape Town bound flight!

BIG thanks to my team Tri-Plex Sport, 32Gi, Puma, Virgin Active and Cape Auto Centre for prolonging my happy childhood. And for Patrick Cawood and Grant Kuneke of TriRock for the entry and accomodation. You all rock. And of course, thanks to the Burger family.

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