SA Champs - Haydn story

There I was, standing before a pretty wild sea on an early Sunday morning in Durban. The confident swimmers were keen because the waves, well, they pitched up. Glen Gore told those of us who could hear him over the offshore wind, "You want to turn at that buoy there (vaguely pointing at the sea) and then swim around the rubber duck 1km down the beach, and in!" The buoy was the size of a water polo ball, and dark red. So you'd only see it when you swam into it.

The gun went off and so did we. There were a couple of casualties that lost their goggles by trying to wade through the crashing waves with their faces. I followed a couple of locals under the waves and managed to sit on a pair of feet for the first few hundred meters, until I took the lead. It turns out I shouldn't have, because suddenly I was in charge of looking for the 2nd buoy, "the rubber duck". I put my head down, got dunked twice and enjoyed a mouthful of Durban’s finest surf. Eventually I spotted the lifeguard’s boat. Funny story, they hadn’t been briefed that a couple of triathletes in poorly designed provincial tri-suits were about to try swim around them. So naturally we were now chasing a boat that was trying to evade us. Eventually I caught sight of the onboard captain waving his arm and directing us to shore, and oh, there was another ‘James Raymond’ sized buoy to turn at. Unfortunately for me three local boys got away because they are one with the ocean. I however, did tumble turns onto the shore.

I hit T1 in 4th, made up a place with a swift transition, much to the pleasure of Travis Johnston who once said, “Mackenzie learnt to walk faster than you can transition, Haydn.” I got on the bike and was pleased to find myself at the front of the race within the first lap of the bike. I knew I’d soon see the likes of Donovan Geldenhuys, and Michael Clark Kent Cannon if I didn’t vasbyt, so I held the power I had to, stayed in my bars, shouted at marshals who didn’t know the route, and waved at my girlfriend.

To my utter shock I came into T2 with a 2:30 gap on 2nd. I transitioned in 26 seconds, putting Eben de Jongh’s beer mile speed to shame. I hit the run course and apparently hit Cam Macnair’s outstretched hand a little too hard with my excitement. Shame.

I’d love to say that I smiled the whole run and jogged in to my first overall victory, but I didn’t. I ran for my life. I set out at a pace that I would be proud to hold for my 5km TT. I ran passed my number 1 fans, the aforementioned girlfriend, Courtney, Sore-hand Cam, and Mountain Goat Mike Ferreira. They cheered and wooed and everything you want to hear when leading. Then I passed them again, because Mr Gore designed a scenic 4 X back-and-forth run course on the Durban Promenade, showing off their beloved paving. As I passed them the second time, the three of them were no longer jubilant. I heard the following, “Hurry up!”, “He’s put 45 seconds into you!”, and “If you lose, you lose me!”. So I gritted my teeth and upped the pace. I faced the pain of my bleeding toes, my screaming legs, and the thought that my support crew might act like they don’t know me. I didn’t lose their support though and I broke the tape with just over a minute to 2nd place.

I’ve said it a number of times and I’ll say it again, the boys and girls in MTD pushed me to have the ability to win that race. In this team, our fellow athletes are the reason we never stop and never give less than what we’ve got. MTD is truly something special and a group that’s changed who I am. From getting me through the incidents at World Champs, to lending me equipment and drumming it into me to back myself, I’m truly grateful.
MTD, Ahoo.


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