Totally Challenged

If difficulty is judged by how exhausted you are after a sporting event then the Totalsports Challenge (see previous post) was right up there with the Half Ironman last year this time. Maybe it has something to do with the time of the year because the full Ironman didn’t even take it out of me as much.

I did underestimate the Totalsports a bit, and then as often happens there is an additional  curved ball somewhere along the way. In this case it was the mountain bike which was one of the tougher ones I’ve ever done. I’ve used stronger language when describing it to friends last night.

It started with my chain wheel nearly falling off as I hit the tar of the main road. This took a few minutes of repair work. Then 2/3km’s from the start we turned onto the dirt and I started climbing which was about 6km’s up, like straight up. It felt like more than Constantiaberg mast but that could just have been that my legs were already a little worn out. I passed quite a few people walking which gave a sense of the difficulty (walking 5km’s into a 25km ride).

At the top my Garmin told me I was about 10km’s in and we started a few undulating hills. I studiply thought that I had done most of the work already and besides some minor climbs we had to be heading down now. Right? Well Right but with a twist, literally.

The downhill was fast, very technical (loose rocks – not stones), big gullys, loose sand and steep, incredibly steep at parts. So I came down quickly, it was bloody scary (I nearly convinced myself to get disk brakes – but not quite). Then we did some great parts through what must have been beautiful countryside if only I wasn’t gasping for breath and hanging on for dear life.

Hit 20km’s and found myself at the bottom of the valley. Must be some clever way out I’m sure. Not. Straight up again for the steepest climb of the day, admittedly not as long, only 1km or so, to get us up above Kleinmond with 4km’s to go. The 9km beach run which I had in my mind to jog with Lisa and cool down at the end of the day had shifted over the last 30 minutes from being “I’m going to enjoy the last stage” to “I’m not sure how I will survive the last stage!”

Hit the change over and Lisa had done her magic. She grabbed my bike and handed me something to drink and some Gu’s while I shed my cycling garb for the beach run which we did bare feet. My sense of humour was stretched to its limit after the bike but it was such a relief to get off and stretch my body out that the first part of the run actually felt quite good.

Lisa and I quickly sussed out that neither of us were going to sprint it and we’d just take it as it came. She had managed to drop my bike onto her leg when she was carrying it down to the paddle stage at Arabella so she had a hole which the medics had treated and she had taped up with some duck tape.

When we had chatted before the event, Lisa has mentioned that the beach run is hard because of the soft sand and camber of the beach. How bad can it be I thought? Well worse actually. High tide, very soft sand, a 20 degree camber and a head wind and on the way out, made the beach quite unplayable really.

We started a little routine which would go something along the lines of being brought to halt by a wave that had washed up to our knees and then one of us saying something like, ‘ok, we’ll just walk to the log and then we’ll run again’.

I had managed to start and stop my Garmin so I didn’t have an idea of distance. All we could see were people running off into the distance but no sign of the turning point. Trevor Ball caught up with us doing a fine effort as an individual and we ran with him until the mirage in the distance actually did turn out to be the halfway flag. We topped up with water and a few Gu’s and then started back which was easier with the wind on our back.

Coming back into the finish as Kleinmond lagoon felt a bit like coming in from a week long ordeal. Billy Harker was just heading out for the ‘beach walk’ as he termed it doing a fantastic solo effort.

We must have looked a lot better than we felt as we ran down the shute (either that or they felt sorry for us) as we got handed an extra goodies bag with the mandatory Mens Health supplement covering how to get six pack abs and learn 15 new sex positions. Well done to Kevin and Cath who beat us solidly in time and we think by one position in the mixed pairs. We’ll watch the Totalsports web site for the final results. It was a great day out.

We came in at about 8 hours 15 mins which we were very happy with. It had been a good say starting with a solid 12km paddle by Lisa at 6 in the morning at Gordons Bay. Despite damaging her rudder in the rather poorly thought out, drag your boat around a flag on the beach at the end of lap one idea, she set us up for a good day. My 1.5km swim felt good, the conditions were perfect and besides a few people zig zagging in the water and an elbow in my mouth was uneventful.

Lisa hopped on the bike and did a sterling effort to Kleinmond riding a fair bit on her own which made it harder. Our transition worked well and she managed to get bike and boat down to the water at Arabella before I got there at the end of the 13km run. What a partner!

She made the right choice in taking a surfski out on the Botriver Lagoon which had got quite windy and choppy by the time she started. She had to fight her rudder a bit and still did a solid 50m by my calcs. for what was billed as a 13km paddle but was probably a little less. I had time to put my legs up after getting myself ready for the mountain bike.

Thanks Lisa for all the organizing and been a fantastic Captain of team Scott-Williams. We do sound a bit like Artic explorers don’t we…. :-)

Back to training this week for Ironman.

Author: Dale Williams

Dale is based in Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa from where he maintains connections with people all over the world through his portfolio life.