Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2018 by Rohan Meyer
If you have in any way, may it be via television, Ironman Tracker, Twitter, word-of-mouth or be as lucky as me to be there in person to follow the World Championships race the first weekend of September in Port Elizabeth, then let’s not make chairs out of tables here but what did we even witness! In the ladies race we saw Daniela Ryf smashing the women’s Pro race in style (theoretically half-naked) and placing 24th overall, including the Pro men times. We also saw Saffa born Jan Frodeno run 2 x 31:30 10km’s back-to-back with a 3:34min on the final 1.1km to run a 1h06min half marathon in an immense Pro men’s race victory. The level of racing over this weekend surely was hormonal, to say the least!
But yes, I can blub a writing about the race horses we saw rocking up from all over the world to our lovely South Africa and the amazing show these phenomenal pro and age group athletes put up. But that would just be an Alan Donald run-out. Here is the weekend’s juice of what I witnessed MTD do and what some simple examples made me realize, in no particular order.
- Never take racing for granted. Many of you have probably heard me say it over the last couple of days, but it’s truth! Never take racing for granted. Any opportunity to toe a start line is a privilege! No matter how hard you worked for it or how much sacrifices you’ve made to have your name on the start list, at the end of the day it is not your right to race, it is a mere exception and a privilege. Chris Bruchhausen is probably the most talented and hardworking athlete I know, burning to race, and he definitely was a South African podium hopeful (he would’ve smashed it), but could sadly not race due to illness… His example just comes to show that health can ankle-tap even the most deserving athlete. No one is immortal. Do not take it for granted. Chris remains in our thoughts during his journey to full recovery…
- Race, and race hard, but always show comradery. I can exemplify this statement by giving you two names: Mike Ferreira and Cameron Macnair. These two same age category athletes are probably the most equally met athletes out there, and fierce competition to one another, but page through any photos of the two of them (racing or non-racing) and you’ll see the definition of comradery right there. I believe that is why they are racing so exceptional! Race hard, but “friend” hard too.
- It’s never over until it’s over. This run-down and watered cliché everyone always mutters truly showcased it’s meaning to me whilst watching the women’s age group race. Mariella Dierks’ sublime race is the absolute epiphany of this limerick-ish cliché. Mariella was lying in 48th place after the swim. She then biked herself into the 10th spot and closed this out with a run that saw her to the 2nd spot in the World! Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, it’s never over until it’s over. Race ‘till you are done!
- Don’t let go of South Africa. Yes, our home country (and MTD) is stocked with talent and potential. Rudolf Visser, for one, swam the 9th fastest swim split of the day (without any bunch help), which is about 20 seconds off the likes of Ben Kanute and Jan Frodeno. Ryan Schmitz’s bike split was right up there with the pro’s. Ask me, everyone trying to hold to this guy’s pace got shot out the back, basically imminently. MTD also have the likes of Mister Consistency, Bryan Difford, in its repertoire and a World Championship podium is no unfamiliar sight to this flying Kulula. Michelle Enslin is also not cold yet, dominating the latter part of the age group ladies race last Saturday. Kirsten Schut ran an insane 1h27min half marathon of a 2h35min bike to also get onto the steps. SA’s got talent – watch this space!
- Be in your Coach’s corner. I am of opinion that MTD has some of the best coaches in the country! And even though the results of their athletes speak for itself, I cannot help but pin point to some coach characteristics that I’ve been privileged to witness and experience firsthand with my own coach, Kent. Richard Lawrie’s coaching methodology of being absolutely extensive and precise with immense attention to detail has seen his athletes dominate various races. Or maybe some of you are training under the guidance of Travis Johnston aka Martin Luther King with his motivational speech that’ll wake up the inside of you, a guy that runs three jobs and a family, but still kicks most athletes’ butt and still defines a great coach. Or maybe you are as lucky as me to have a coach that gave Mark Allan a knock-out punch out of excitement because you crossed the finish line. Your coach is your security. Be in his corner!
- Prioritize your priorities. I was privileged enough to have my dad, my mom as well as my fiancée with me over this racing weekend. Even though I knew it would be hard racing in the blown-zone while passing them on course, this journey would by no means have been possible without them. My friends standing on course, giving me splits or just even shouts of motivation is what eventually pulled me to the finish. Point is, there will be many more races and many more World Championships to partake in. You have one shot with your relationships! Invest into these, spend time with the ones that love you and always give your best to the ones that always back you and believe in you. Do your support structures justice by burning all your matches…
These are just a few examples and I can honestly say that I can replace any of the names mentioned above with any other of the 80 MTD athletes or coaches that also competed or had competing athletes. The fact that MTD had about 40% of the South African podiums just proves this point.
But I was actually asked to do a race report on my race. So, I’ll just add a few sentences here as an addendum to comply to this requirement. My race went well. Period. I wanted to vomit (true story - pictures don’t lie), but it was the good type of vomit... Like always my swim cap fell off during the swim, but for some reason I actually enjoyed having my head under water (maybe because for a change there was no black line?). I swam a personal best 1.9km which set me up for a feel-good race. I went out hard on the bike, knowing that a tricky bike, because of the amount of old ballies already out there, will be the deciding factor. The soon-to-be lead bunch of my age group (basically Ryan Schmitz and Tiaan Swart) passed me within the first few kilometers. I tried to sit with them but got shot out the back within 2 minutes. My power meter seemed faulty, reading strangely low values. I was either being extremely aero or I lost 10kg before the race, but I just ignored my power and kept my heartrate in check. I managed to keep the gap to a minimum and started the run about 3 minutes down to the front guys. But so did a running Frenchman that ended up running a 1h12min half marathon, leaving me with a 10 second margin on him as he ran from 12th position into 2nd. My overall time of 4h03min13s was within a minute of my coach’s optimistic pre-race predictions, but never would I have been able to predict the unreal result. I am a happy man, knowing that I gave it my absolute everything plus something additional in the last 3km’s of the run!
To conclude. Remember, at the end of the day we do triathlon because we love it! Find the reason why you love it and let that be your conduit of energy! Let your priorities align with your drive and will to never take any opportunity for granted, to love your training and racing colleagues, to never give up until you go onto a drip or cross the finish line (or both), to trust your coach and make him proud. The result is: free mind, free body, free enjoyment! What is next?