Team Tri-Plex versus the XMonstrosity!

29 September 2013

Team Tri-Plex versus the XMonstrosity!
Article by: Frank Smuts


Halfway through the route, high up against the mountain, with only 15 minutes of running left, I looked with begging eyes at the 2 liter Coke next to the farmer watching us suffer…

We were on the last leg, the run bit, of the XMonster Off-Road Triathlon in Riebeeck Kasteel, 29 September 2013. I almost asked him for a sip. Not because there were no water tables. Not because I needed nutrition. No, I just wanted something nice to happen to me. Because for the previous 90 minutes plus, what was happening to the members of Team Tri-Plex was not so nice! But let’s rewind things a bit…


The day started beautiful for some. For the first time in triathlon history the refs could execute a unanimous decision regarding a “wetsuit” or “non-wetsuit” for the swim. Robyn, Cornel, Andrè, Mornè and I found ourselves lining up with 12 other athletes, for a swim in water with a 13 degrees Celsius temperature. We thought that this was gonna be the hard part, but what followed left me with only good memories regarding the swim.

We took off our wetsuits ourselves, as well as donning our helmets and shoes for the bike ride. It says a lot about the human body’s ability to raise core temperature.


Mountain bikers ride two types of track mainly: jeep track and single track, with variations thereof. Most of the track we had to overcome on this sunny day belonged to an “unknown to mankind category”, that would best be described by cows and pigs. In their own language. For two reasons: They made it, roll around in it, and humans don’t have words to describe it.

Cow dung, mud, sploshy mud, harder mud. Mud with hairy stuff in it Animal tracks with sink holes that can make a 29′er wheel disappear like you’ve never had one. Peanut buttery mud. Off camber bumpy grass lumps with overhanging tetanous-inviting barbed wire fences in between. Robyn had to stop mid-ride for 10 hours to surgically remove a piece of barbed wire from her cluster.

We traversed the countryside, digging deep. Very deep. Not for energy, but for faith: a steadfast faith in the belief that what felt like the aimless criss-crossing of bumpercars at a funfair, was actually the course.

By some quirk of fate we all made it to T2, not necessarilly by the same route I wanna believe.


Heading out of T2, we ran towards the mountain. We knew the run course went halfway up the mountain. That much we knew. So that was our one and only marker: the mountain! Halfway up the mountain. There was no other. Some were lucky to have someone stopping in front configuring a route, and follow that hapless person’s unbeaten path.

This is where the Coke entered the equation: at the highest point against the mountain. Thát was where the sole marshall (I think he was) sat with his 2 liter Coke. The Coke became a symbol: a symbol of hope, the knowledge that there is a better life out there. And thát kept us going.

With the earthcore-connected-magnetic-navigation thingymajigs that migrating ducks use, we all got back to the finish line. Congrats to Robyn for first lady and Cornel for a well deserved 2nd place. With 17 athletes starting in total, I can safely say the rest of us secured a top 20 place.


Team Tri-Plex was forged in fire. Actually more like…mud. But I think the end result is sort of the same. If this did not beat us, nothing will.

Thanks to Robin, Andrè, Morne and Cornel for sharing a very unique day.

And once again big thanks to 32Gi, 2XU and Cape Auto Centre for setting us up for survival. We live to fight another day! Go Team Tri-Plex.

PS. The organizer was extremely apologetic for the mishaps and promised all of us a free entry, plus an extra entry for a partner for next year.

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