A Whale of a Time

With a Peregrine pie in his belly, Riaan Shaw and myself made our way to Hermanus for the Walker Bay Xtreme. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb (Riaan and Dylan Pivo) entered the Big 6 - six high intensity races over four days. Over the first two days, I watched these incredible athletes rack up podiums like it was no one’s business. By day three it was my time to shine in my new MTD trisuit and tri bars. The road triathlon was a sprint distance - short and sweet. Plus, my legs had finally recovered from the 22x200s we did two weeks back, thanks Coach.

The men and women raced together which provided the huge perk of waving to my friends on the course but also made the swim faster for the women. Following a rough swim and terrible T1 where I accidently put my friend’s race belt and helmet on, I then dropped my bike doing the one thing I had aimed to achieve in this race – mount my bike from the left hand side. Biking is not my strong point. I estimated 3 women were ahead of me and knew many more would be by the end of the bike leg. By the time I had built up the courage to get on my tri bars, I passed someone! I have NEVER passed ANYONE on the bike, EVER. Now, for the first time, I was excited to see my bike stats. Two laps on the bike meant I could wave to each friend three times. More than enough to keep me busy.

Coming off the bike 2nd but out of T2 3rd I was determined to catch my friend 30 m ahead of me. I emptied my tank on the run but remained just behind my friend the entire course. The out and back run course follows the coastline and I could see the buoys for the 2.5 km sea swim I had signed up for 3 hrs later. I promised myself that if I ran hard it would be fine to swim backstroke for 2.5 km. Excited to see my splits, I checked my race stats on my watch and realized I never lapped my watch after the swim and so rode in T1 mode and ran in T2 mode. Judging by my lactate build up, I knew I likely had just had my best bike and run but with no record of it. Now I have a new goal for my next race.

After a quick lunch I was back in my wet wetsuit ready to test my backstroke endurance. Luckily for me, I managed to find a steady stream of bubbles and in return tickled a kind man’s toes for 40 mins. Even more luckily for me, Celeste had entered the swim and we swam together most of the way.

My final race was a 17km trail run. My favourite session of the week is by far the long, slow Sunday run. I told myself this would be the same but with some climbing. 8 km into the run I looked up and saw a herd of runners heading towards me, on single track. I had nowhere to go but turn and run. Someone shouted that I was now leading the race (haha). The leaders had lost the course and we were heading back down to find it. This happened 3 more times, such that everybody decided to call it quits and head back to the race finish. I knew Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb would catch and pass me but they never did. I knew this was a once in a life time opportunity and so I thought smart, I waited 40 mins at the finish line so that I could document myself IN FRONT of the Tweedles and have it on record. For anyone wanting the photo just ask me, or the Tweedles. Their story is a little different, something about a green block.

Race weekends like these provide me the chance to test out my limits and it’s largely why I participate in the sport but what I take away from weekends like these are the memories of cheering, laughing and waving at friends. Thanks to everyone for an epic weekend! Walker Bay Xtreme, see you next year.



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