Keelyn takes on Midlands Ultra

After racing in the States this year I decided it was time to try some new races around South Africa.

Midlands Ultra fitted in perfectly with the triathlon racing calendar and was a good opportunity to throw in a visit to my brother up in the Drakensberg.
Ian and I flew up to Durban on the Thursday and spent two nights with my brother and his wife before heading to Midlands on the Saturday.

The race had been cancelled for two consecutive years due to mist so when we woke up on Sunday morning to low lying mist we thought history may repeat itself.
Thankfully by the time we got down to race venue the mist had cleared and the conditions were near to perfect.

The swim was in the famous Midmar dam, with a mass start.
Starting with the guys always gives me a drafting advantage, however, after some guy kicked me in the ribs, within the first few seconds, I opted out of this drafting idea. Getting kicked in the ribs threw me a little and for the first time I was genuinely scared in the water, but I managed to relax and settle into a comfortable pace after everyone had spread out. I was the 2nd female to exit the water and made my way up the hill to transition.

The bike....this is when I realised that Double Century the week before hadn't quite left my legs. The bike course was 3 loops of 30km, with undulating terrain and no road closure. To be completely honest, I didn't enjoy the bike leg but the loops broke it down into manageable chunks. The female in the lead was an exceptionally strong biker, every lap she increased her lead on me ending up with a 5 min lead after the bike.

The run was also broken down into 3 loops with undulating terrain. By this time the weather had started to heat up, reminded me of that intense Jailbreak heat.
The water stations were extremely well supplied and at every water stop I grabbed two sachets of water to pour over my head.
The first lap I saw the leading female with a significant gap. I decided that I would just run my own race, whatever pace that may be, as my Garmin was still sitting nicely on my bike, while my watch strap was creating a fabulous tan on my wrist.
At the start of the third lap a lady at one of the water stations told me that the leader was slowing down and I could easily catch her. The last 3 km's I managed to overtake her as she slowed down to grab some coke at a water station.

The experience of being in the lead is overwhelming and running through the finishing ribbon was probably the highlight of the entire race.
I didn't expect to win Midlands or put any pressure on myself to perform, but I think that's probably the reason why I did.

Midlands was a fantastic end to a great year of racing


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