Travis stalks some prey at Sun City Ultra

Stalking your Prey

So the alarms go off and it’s yet again another race day that has arrived. There is nothing quite like the feeling of preparing for a 70.3 distance race as you wake up, and the nervous butterflies that turn into vultures in your stomach. But if there is a venue that takes away some of the nerves it is Sun City, there can’t be too many better places in the country to race.

Now the proud father of a little girl, my life has quite literally been turned on its head the last 2months, in the best possible way. Training has taken a nosedive and quality is hard to find these days when it comes to getting in the training hours. All in all not a great mix when waiting in the water for the gun to go off and realising that I’m actually in for just over 4hrs of pure hell.

The horn blew and it was the usual chaos in the beginning for me as we headed for the first buoy. My arms felt like they did not belong to me and my breathing was that of a lifelong chain smoker who walked into a VO2 max test. I got to the first buoy with way too many people around me and was already swearing in the water as to why the hell I had entered this stupid race. So all in all a dreadful swim and I came out the water with a lot of damage control to do, with the leaders a couple minutes down the road.

The bike is probably one thing I have been able to do the most of as I just bang out an indoor session with any time that floats my way, so although I felt comfortable out on the course the wind did pick up dramatically. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place as the 3 leaders were riding well together and opening up the gap on me. I had a very comfortable lead behind me but the problem was being stranded with nobody around to pace off and having 90km to think about what a kak swim I had just had and counting the amount of hours sleep I had the night before with all the feeds that were going on with the lil one.

So with a nice tail wind on the way home from the bike it brought me into T2 with around 4min down on the leaders and myself lying in 4th place at the time. I know I can run and I was brought up on a golf course so the bumpy, hilly, rhythm breaking route ahead of me was actually very exciting. I headed out quick on the run doing the math in my head of what speed I should go in order to catch the leaders and give myself a chance. I came through half way having put a dent of 3min into the guys and I really thought it was game on for a podium now. I have, unfortunately, had some problems with the nerve in my calf lately and it played up again on the 2nd lap. I thought I was all done as usually it just pulls and i'm out the race. Luckily this time I managed to jog a few kms at a much slower pace and then it slowly started to release, allowing me full motion again for the final 4km.  With the route looping around everywhere I never got to see my prey that I was hunting down so made it very difficult to see how far I now was away from a potential podium spot.

It was at that moment, as I was coming up to the 2km to go point, that this golden ray of sun came beating down on a very familiar athlete up the road. A bright red and white tri suit stood out up the road, shoulders down, not quite limping but definitely fatigued after his big effort on the bike…………………yes it was Mr Kent Horner! My eyes lit up, legs started to feel like a track athlete again and had a spring in my step that even Bolt would be proud of. So 2km and 40secs lead on me, roughly I knew I had to put the hammer down. I flew down from the vacation club hill like a bat out of hell and prepared for my take over. I knew I had to be silent and quick as any sniff of an idea that I was coming he would kick into gear again. So I brought out some track specials with my heel rolling a little extra to silence my steps and then held my breath as I approached…… ‘’Hey daddy’’ I shouted past as I flew by him coming into the final 500m. The moment was priceless and the look on his face was that as if he had seen a ghost (I made the look of his face up as I was not looking back, but I can only imagine his surprise, hahaha ☺). But I did hear cursing and him using some very choice words to describe the shock of what had just happened.

So I picked up a very happy 3rd and officially lead the battle of the dads : Trav 1 --- Kent 0.

We will no doubt have many battles in the years to come which should make for some more interesting reading.

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