Knysna Big 5 challenge
An event that I was eagerly anticipating having not been involved in Ironman 70.3 Durban this year. After completing my 1st Big 5 challenge in 2014 I knew it was only a matter of time before I entered again. It is such an incredible event with a great atmosphere throughout the week of the Oyster festival. It is also a time spent making new friends and one certainly starts learning about the muscles you never knew existed.
Unlike 2014 I was definitely not as well prepared for the grueling week of racing and I knew I was in for a tough one. Mine and coaches focus was to enjoy the challenge and use it as a nice kick up the backside going into my preparation for 70.3 World champs. I knew my limits and raced accordingly throughout the week. This allowed me to really enjoy the experience with no pressure and spend time taking in all of the beauty that Knysna and the surrounding areas has to offer.
The challenge consists of 5 events:
Saturday - 80km MTB race
Sunday - 1.8km Lagoon swim
Tuesday - 15km Featherbed trail run
Thursday - Dual X Duathlon
Saturday - Knysna Forsest 21km
The 80km MTB is a beast and this year it was no joke. Wet and cold conditions meant for a very tough day on the bike. Sundays freezing lagoon swim loosens up the body nicely and has you feeling great for Mondays rest day, (unless Claire is your coach). Tuesday you wake up feeling 100's and wander to yourself what all the fuss about broken bodies was all about. Well this 15km trail run is one of the hardest runs you will ever do and this is where the real challenge actually begins. Wednesday rest day, (unless Claire is your coach) you wake up shattered.Thursday is no different but this time it is not a recovery swim in George on your programme but it is the Dual X Duathlon. Best bet here is to ensure that you are extremely well warmed up so that the body is ready for the brutal Run, bike, run course. Friday you wake up realising that you have more muscles on your body than you thought. This is also a rest day but I think you know by now that I didn't get any of those. Back to George I went for another 3+ km swim. I must say that these swims made all the difference during the week. Great way to flush the body out and loosen up the broken muscles. Saturday 21km Forest run was possibly one of the most painful races I have ever done. I was in serious pain from start to finish. It was expected being that my legs weren't too well conditioned for the challenge in the first place. I focused on running a steady effort and started very easy. Best thing was linking up with Kent, Dyl & Chris on the road. They pretty much took it easy while I suffered to keep up but it definitely helped. A fitting end to an awsome week was when all four of us crossed the finish line together with the exact same time.
All in all it was a really great week. I stayed with Dylan Pivo and Keegan Cooke in a place right at the venue. Dylan also had a great challenge and Keegan did exceptionally well by placing 2nd overall in the Big 5 lite. There is a team event each year and I would like to urge more MTD athletes to add this one to the bucket list. It is such a funfilled week and there is not much better than suffering it out with your fellow MTD'ers for an entire week.
The Knysna to Cape Town cycle tour starts the day after the challenge and it's totally the best feeling having to wake up with tender muscles at4:30am to leave Knysna at 5:30am in 10°C for a 156km ride to Oudshoorn.
Next up for me is Ironman 70.3 World champs in Australia. I have listened to my coach as always and now I can only hope and pray for a great day of racing. 9 MTD athletes are racing at World champs and i'm feeling confident that we are going to be great representatives for South Africa and MTD.