Xterra Czech - solid working my way up to the podium
August 8, 2015
April 5, 2017
XTERRA South Africa - two days of racing
February 22, 2016
This year I am back for the second time to race the Xterra in the Wester Cape and Elgin Valley. I also use the perfect condition in February and March as a 1 month training camp in Stellenbosch. Not only are all the top athletes here, but the facilities and the mind set of the entire town is revolting around performance sport.
The days leading up the big race I had the chance to train several times on the bike course. Last year I only did it one single time and then in the race again. This course needs more than that to master it well. Training with Theo Blignaut, Michael Szymoniuk, Dominik Wychera and Brice Daubort was very fun and I learned a lot from them. The trail down here are world class and a lot gf them in a very small area. Some of them offer big jumps, tables, doubles and gaps and I was working on mastering higher and wider obstacles.
Another highlight of this trip was that I saw the very first time in my life a rhino and got lucky to see also a 4 week old baby rhino.
Race day - The start was moved up one hour earlier then in the previous year and this meant to have breakfast at 5am and be ready on the start line by 8am. The venue again was super big and nice. This year all the racers had to swim without a wetsuit and dealing the start about 10min it was a very cold start standing in the water chest deep waiting for the sunrise and start gun.
My swim form was ok, but I was not able to stay with the top 5 guys in the water and ended up in a pack behind them with Aiden Nguent. When we reached T1 we could just see the top guys storming out and I knew we had lost about 40seconds. The bike is my strong point the the climb in the beginning is my thing - I road hard to catch the guys and shortly after the first 2 were caught. Sad to see Brice with a flat tire smuggling at kilometre 4 on the travers, was another one I caught.
On the same travers I then lost my chain, just about when I caught up to Antoine van Heerden, butting the chain back cost me about 20sec and these 20sec would play a roll till to the end. I was then always in sight contact with Antoine all the way to kilometre 10 on the run - the same distance would just remain, not grow or get smaller. I was bummed since I knew he was running for 5th place and would be on the podium with this and I am just next to it. I tried all I could, but this was it, I came 6th, happy to be better and stronger then a year ago, but bummed by missing the podium by that little.
The next day Brice and I returned to race the sprint Xterra. For Brice it was a revenge with the bike course and for me it was a race to win the Xterra Warrior double.
The amount of people was incredible and a new world record was set by participants with 1400 athletes at the start.
I chose to go for the right on the swim start, the shortest and most aggressive line. The gun went of and after a few minutes I found myself in second position behind a young south african in the national team colours. Around the first buoy Brice was just behind me and only in the last 200m he passed me and opened a gap of 10m. Running up to T1 and onto the bike the 10m remained and it took me about 2km to catch up to Brice. For a short while we had a south african in our back, but once the technical trails came he could not hold the pace. Brice and I started working together and we arrived with a small lead into T2.
On the run I knew I had no chance to match Brice, and aseptically not with his fresh legs. So my goal was to go for the podium and hold of the racers behind me. The run went well until 6km, then I could hear the people screaming at the finish and I knew that something is not good, I turned around and I saw that one south african caught up to me. I tried my best, but my calf were tired and broken from the day before. I had nothing left to sprint and the kid was quick - so I had to let him take the second place. Still very happy with third that day and taking the Warrior title for the combination of the Full and Sprint race.
Xterra South Africa is the best race I have ever done and doing both races back to back was even a better experience. I will come back in 11 months and I am looking forward to the 2017 edition!
Baie Dankie to the sponsors, volunteers and organisers - it’s on big party!