Jun 13 2019
Jono has a recognisable face. So when I saw him again in the bike shop, it was time to introduce myself. At that stage I had no idea if he was some hotshot aristocratic triathlete, or young and aspiring like myself. All I knew was that I had seen his face once before, a month prior at the 2017 KZN Champs. Fortunately he felt the same and introduced himself there and then as Jonathan Stamatis, a fisherman’s son from the South Coast. It turns out he was also buying some last minute gear for the then upcoming SA Champs in March 2017.
At that stage Jono was newer to triathlon than I, but he had legs like a member of the Omaticaya clan from Pandora – and he could run. We were the only two to compete without wetsuits in the 2017 SA Champs. The venue was at the Aldam Dam in the Free State, and the event coincided with what seemed to be the storm of the year. I remember standing at the water’s edge with Jono looking at the surface of the dam in disbelief. Chocolate brown and upside down. It was cold too – when we eventually survived the swim we really were as blue as two avatars. That weekend was the start of our friendship.
In 2017 I took a gap year to teach English and pursue triathlon and Jono was studying at Varsity College around the corner. We had a lot of time and space to train together and illegally catch fish from the marina canal around the Durban Point Waterfront.
However, in 2018 I moved to Namibia and started my articles in Law there. It was a hideous ordeal, as class for Namibian articles are 5pm to 9pm, five days a week, for at least six months of the year. I was sitting from 7:30 am in the morning to 9:30 pm at night. And thereafter we have 22 exams within the space of three months. Needless to say, my athletic career regressed faster than the Zimbabwean dollar.
During this time Jono had moved to Cape Town and met Claire from MyTrainingDay. So a year went by wherein he became fast and I didn’t. He was doing 100m’s in the pool in the time it takes me to straighten my back after a day of sitting.
Eventually my articles ended, and I was able to start training again. But I needed a new coach. Since I was aware of Jono’s progress and his exposure to different coaches, I asked him about MyTrainingDay. I had my doubts about this Black and red triathlon club. They always seemed to move in large groups with the imperiousness of a Victorian foxhunting party...
Kent Horner coaches me now. And this is actually where the story starts. You see, with Jono under Claire and myself under Kent, a rivalry started dubbed “Team Kent vs Team Claire”. It especially became tantalising when we both entered the 2019 Durban 70.3 race. Jono reckoned he could take me on with ease; and often reminded me of it on Whatsapp. At some point I decided our rivalry should have a consequence of some sort; But one that would really bring attention to the dual. So I proposed my idea to Jono and after some contemplation, he agreed. Here follows the preamble to our Wager Agreement.
In the light of the fact the parties to this agreement are in the prime of their health and fitness and are specifically lit motherf…s when it comes to throwing down the gauntlet in swim, bike and run; they have agreed to bind themselves to the terms of this wager, which would otherwise not be enforceable. This agreement seeks to extract the purist and most intense experience from their sporting careers by imposing permanent consequences upon the loser of this wager. It is all done in the spirit of great sportsmanship and friendship, and therefore concerns a fiduciary duty towards each other. This agreement recognises that the winner of this wager has achieved such a great feat that the consequence that results upon the loser hereof, is justified and morally acceptable.
And the consequence…
The loser of this wager shall tattoo onto his right buttock the name of the winner, clearly and in Times New Roman, Font size 22 with one space in between each letter, as displayed hereunder:
J o n o / K o n r a d
I sent this Agreement to Claire. Instead of handing it to Jono she read it aloud one afternoon at squad training to the entire group. It was at that point that, as we say in law, the terms between the parties have crystallised. And instead of Jono’s squad getting behind him to support, they opted to root for this unknown guy from Namibia whose name might be tattooed on Jono’s arse.
So race day came and went. And Jono lost. But one thing no one cared to mention, was that despite Jono’s constant enthusiasm, camaraderie, excitement and grit throughout the race - he had just done the full African Ironman event 2/3 weeks before the Durban 70.3. He could barely train for the 70.3, never mind rest. He never used that as an excuse nor undermined the bet despite the odds being stacked so heavily against him.
He still needs to get that tattoo though. A bet is a bet, and I have his word. He has two months after the race within which to get the tattoo. And I rely fully on his squad mates to make sure he follows through. So if you train in Cape Town and ever see a guy in the changing room with the name Konrad tattooed on his arse, you at least know the guy isn’t gay.
by Konrad Marais