First up for those that do not know, Totalsports Challenge is a multi-sport Race held in the beginning of January (because for some reason they hate people getting too rowdy over the festive season) from Gordon’s Bay to Kleinmond. It consists of 7 events that can be done individually or in teams, 2,4 or 7:
- 13km Surf ski
- 1.5km Swim
- 50 km Road Cycle
- 13km Road Run
- 13km K1 Canoe
- 25km Mountain Bike
- 9km Beach Run
Last year I took on Totalsports Challenge Terra Firma – and as the name suggests, this is only consists of “ground events” the cycles and runs. It went really well and after watching the other athletes and teams come in I was super keen to take on the complete challenge. This year that is exactly what I attempted.
1: Surf ski – in previous years this event has often been cancelled due to windy conditions making the surf a bit rough. To be honest I was holding thumbs for this to happen again but, I am not so lucky and let’s just say I was a tad nervous starting out
We were off, the first couple of hundred meters were fine, I was definitely in the last couple of boats on the sea, but doing well. Then the carnage started! It started getting a bit rougher and soon people were bailing into the deep blue, left, right and centre. The wind picked up and soon boats were flying away from their owners and rescue water-skis were working super hard.
Don’t get me wrong I was not untouchable and just after making my way past a young girl clinging to her boat, over I went. It was the first of many… very, very many.
Somewhere on the ocean I lost the will to carry on (ha ha look at me being SUPER dramatic) but I am not going to lie, there was some screaming, some tears, paddling as hard as I could into the wind with my legs out the boat (cue “Jaws” theme song as well) and not going anywhere.
I know now, that if you are going to do a race with a sea paddle, it may be a good idea to actually have paddled in the sea. You would think I would have guessed that before.. Darned blonde hair.
I am not a fast swimmer, but since playing waterpolo at school I am pretty confident in my swimming ability. 1.5km’s is a fair distance if you don’t usually swim it, so I put in a little training for this and got the most awesome Christmas present (an underwater mp3 player) to help out with it.
This part of the event was the easiest part (except getting in and out of the wetsuit, my god, they should really look into that – getting yanked out of your suit – not attractive, and may have pulled my underwear down with it!). Swimming to me feels natural, it’s easy and even though I pretty much entered the water last it was a breeze. This gave me some time to stop hating the ocean and what it did to me on the paddle and give my legs a bit of a break before the next leg.
I’m a seal!
3. Road Cycle
This would have been a lot easier if there were more people around, as cycling together is a lot easier but I didn’t have that luxury. I did have an amazing second (Boyfriend) who was ready to force feed me bananas and chat to me along the way if he could
The cycle makes its way from Gordon’s bay to kleinmond along the coastal road, a beautiful and undulating ride (I did notice that suddenly the ocean looked flat as glass by the way!). I was feeling pretty good on the bike, I hadn’t been on the road a lot (road cyclists tend to wake up before the sun and I feel that in some way that is just inhumane) but the legs were good and I was happy.
It was on the cycle that I first passed Kirsten (let the battle begin). I passed her pretty quickly and on seeing that she was also an individual I thought I better get as much distance between us as possible. So I pushed pretty hard. Also keeping in mind that this is leg 3 of a 7 stage event I probably should not have been pushing as hard as I did but towards the end when I felt a cyclist behind me I almost shat myself (how did she catch up) – it wasn’t her but boy did that light a fire under my ass.
4. Road Run
I hate the transition from bike to run, your legs always feel like lead jelly, yes that’s a possibility, and I generally get a stitch pretty early on. Boy was pushing me through transitions pretty quickly so off I went holding my chocolate milk shake as I went. Drinking chocolate milk shake whilst running is not the easiest thing to do, there was much spillage on slopping of chocolaty goodness; it’s the price we pay I suppose. Mid way through the run at a water spot, I met up with Kirsten’s parents (they had been passing me on the road to second her) and he told me she was 10 minutes behind me at the transition. 10 minutes is not much for me on the road. I am not so fast on my feet at all and soon I could see her looming in the background, darn it!
By the time we reached the next paddle she was within a couple of seconds of me and as we got into our boats, me my surf ski (which later we discovered had a pretty big crack in it – I like to say that’s why it was so heavy and not cos I suck :p ) and Kirsten in a racing canoe.. oh sh*t
I am not sure if any of you have this but I tend to pick someone in a race to beat.
I am very rarely racing for top spot so midway or earlier in a race I will pick someone of similar strength to me and decide that that is the race that I will have. She (or he, let’s not be sexist here) that I will try to beat.
5. Flat water (my ass) paddle
Watching Kirsten paddle off into the sun made my heart sink a little, so much for that rivalry – but I was on the water so it’s not like I could turn back now.
Obviously it wasn’t as rough as the sea but for me the water was still quite rough and once more I really thought about my sanity and why I decided that this was a good idea. Oh wait it wasn’t.
I may have made a little stop on a sand bank just so that I could stand for a second before carrying on but sssshh, don’t tell my “coach”.
Back on dry land I was pretty down and out, shoulders were sore, the life boat with the buoy was literally following me to shore so I must’ve looked pretty down and out as well, if someone had come up to me and said – good job, you can stop now I think I seriously would have considered it.
One of the sweetest moments I have had in a while happened in this transition, Boyfriend, seeing the tears in my eyes and realising that he should just talk and not ask questions told me that Kirsten was only 10-15, minutes ahead of me and I should go get her. His answer to my response of “How is that possible?!?!?!” was” “She is a provincial paddler and was a little faster than you.” I laughed (on the inside, on the outside I was still pretty upset at the world). In no way had I meant how she got that far ahead I was incredulous at the fact that she was ONLY that far ahead. Boyfriend support is the best. Turns out that I was right, he was lying to me and she had easily made about 30 minutes on me in the paddle, but I didn’t know that.
So, I was handed another milkshake (I just really like chocolate) and off I was sent, on the bike.
6. Mountain Bike
I had done this ride during Terra Firma and remembered it being 12km’s of uphill and then excluding an evil little bump towards the end 12km’s of some pretty gnarly and technical downhill. As long as I could get through the uphill I was actually kind of looking forward to this ride.
Compared to previous times that I had ridden this hill, this was a breeze. I am not sure how that is possible, I think after 7 hours or racing my body had just resigned itself to the fact that I was not going to stop and it should just join in on the “fun”.
Getting to the water point at the end of the climb was awesome, I felt good and it came a lot quicker than I remembered. I had already past 2 people but it wasn’t about that anymore. This was me on my bike in an amazing place doing what I loved. I know that sounds super inspirational and all that jazz but it was true, I wasn’t racing and only racing anymore, I was having a good time doing it. After the paddle with the grimacing and tearing up and screaming t the world in general, the downhill’s and even some of the uphill’s actually made me “whoop”. I am a little ashamed to admit it, but it’s true!
By the time I caught Kirsten I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore, in fact she had changed clothes in between the paddle and bike (yup, that’s how much time she had) and I didn’t even recognize her. I caught her on the last hill and could see that she was not enjoying herself – I love how that can happen in multi-sport, she probably looked at me the same way on the paddle as she breezed past me. I let her know this was the last hill and it was all downhill from there, and boy was it!
I basically did some low level flying back to the kleinmond where I think Boyfriend was pretty surprised to see a big smile on my face. Shoes, Suntan lotion and some (you guessed it) chocolaty goodness applied and helloo beach.
7. Beach Run
Running on the beach seems a little endless sometimes, but the tied was low-ish and running out was pretty easy on the feet. You can see forever on the beach, in that blurry sandy haze and sure enough there was a little spec on the horizon behind me.
Usually, I would stop a little have a look around, but not this time. If I was going to stop on this run, I was going to be past, and by god that was not going to happen. So on I went, marking my progress by aiming for a random piece of seaweed or driftwood so that I felt that I had actually done some distance (small victories).
The run back was not as easy, the tide had come in and soon running became a bit laborious, choosing between running on a sideways slant or dry terrible sand soon gets you pretty buggered. I could see the flags though and with those flags cam solid ground.
A few friends met me to cheer me on for the last couple hundred metres and touching the hard wood of the lagoon bridge was like heaven. You really do appreciate the small things after a long day.
I had made it, it was hard and I was a little sore (mainly sunburn in retrospect) but I did it. I was pretty sure position wise I was going to be 5th – whoop whoop top 5, not too shabby but as I ran though the finishing chute I was told that I came third! Cue confused face.
But it was true, podium noggal, not too shabby for a looooong day out, plus there are only a couple of girls crazy enough to spend that long in the sun alone but I will still claim it :)
Battling it out for 3rd place!
The whole event was pretty epic and not really what I am used to but it was an absolutely amazing experience. Nothing like loving life and hating it and loving it again all within a 4 hour period. Plus the victory eating and cocktail that evening was well worth it!
Totalsports Challenge is an amazing event to take part in, whether you do one event as part of a team, the Terra Firma, or the full. It’s just great to be a part of such an awesome day with 700+ other people cheering you on, racing next to you and just having a good old time.
Thanks to the guys at Totalsports and Stillwatersports events. I had the time of my life!