Well the 5th edition of Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa in East London is finished. It is always a very special race for me, and this year was no different.
There are few reasons why this weekend is special for me. I started in all five races so far; I call South Africa my home now so this is my “home” race. It is also one of the main races in Africa’s triathlon calendar. The amount of participants has grown from 700 competitors in the first race to 3000 athletes this weekend, making this race one of the biggest 70.3ʼs in the world!
This is always the first race of the year for me, and not very far from Christmas, so there is great anticipation to see what shape the other athletes will be in. I knew my training before wasnʼt ideal. I had some time off to rest after the IM World Championships in Hawaii and just when I wanted to start back into training, I had streak of “accidents”! Firstly I ran into a street sign and end up with stitches and a pretty bad concussion. The, after two weeks of forced recovery and finally feeling ready to train again, I was involved in car accident and once again ended up with concussion! The only positive side of all of this was that the forced time off from training really allowed my body some good recovery time, and I got to enjoy a nice Christmas. But of course, after these set backs, I had to do some intense training to get myself into shape for the race.
As the race drew closer, I started to feel that the training was kicking in and my confidence started to grow.
Still, I was pretty nervous in the last few days and morning before the event. This race is even more difficult for me because it is one of the main events for most of my athletes. With 25 athletes racing, I was very busy till the last moment, organising all the little things. Making sure they were all ready for the race and didnʼt forget anything, and of course keeping them motivated!
But finally race start arrived and I was standing on the beach with rest of the pro athletes, getting ready to give it a go, but still very nervous. Oh well, now I was there and all I hoped for was that once I hit the water, my racing brain would switch on!
And yes, like a small miracle – it did. I felt solid in the water. The only problem was that I saw Jodie Swallow swim by and unfortunately I wasnʼt able to stay with her. I settled into my own pace a formed a small group with two other guys. I exited the water in 2nd with a good gap ahead of other girls.
The bike course in East London is very honest and tough. Rolling hills all the way, which makes it feel like you are always going uphill. I knew it would be the key to a good race for me to stay strong on the bike. I was very happy that my head was in the race all the time and I enjoyed pushing and going hard. I was able to hold my 2nd position all the way to transition 2.
Running course is not any easier then the bike. The two-lap run course has a stretch of flat with one long hill to battle with on every lap. But what is amazing about this race is the amount of spectators around the course! All I heard when I was running was “go Lucie go”! I had a good run, and was even eating some time back into Jodie. I finished strong in 2nd and was really very pleased with my race and performance. It was definitely a good and promising start to the new season!
The other highlight of the weekend was the performance of my athletes. I am very proud of all of them and we really made our mark on the race. We ended up with 8 athletes on podiums in the Age Group categories – one of these podiums was an amazing win for Lynette in her new AG 25- 29, another two athletes finished 4th place and PBs for all the athletes. And both first-time proʼs had a great race too, with Natasha ending up as 6th pro female and Travis 12th.
So now, a rest before getting back into training in preparation for IM 70.3 Sri Lanka! A huge thank you to all my sponsors, friends and family for all your support!