It’s Xterra fever in Cape Town (and South Africa) this weekend. The race just seems to grow and grow, and is now split over two days. I’m not sure why the Shongweni Dam leg in KZN never worked, because they probably have the most extensive off-road multisport calendar (maybe that’s the answer!). Totalsports have taken this over from sister store Due South and have the store footprint to leverage it further.
Anyway, for most the weekend will be about more than Stoltz vs Hugo. Many will be doing it for the first time, eager to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s a little dummies guide for mountain bikers I put together. I remember doing it when it was still sixty bucks to enter even on the day, so I think I’m qualified to give a tip or two.
Firstly, I’ve never done the Lite, but would think it’s as challenging for less experienced athletes than the full is for those who’ve done a race or two in their day. My thoughts should be common to both, although I don’t have much to offer on the Lite route.
* Get there early. This is not a mtb race where you can rush in, pull your bike the rack and join on the startline. Transitions are important and you need to set yours up so that everything runs smoothly during the race.
* Transition planning is crucial! Look everyone has their own little habits, i like to have a little bucket with some water in it to dip my bare feet in to rinse the sand off before putting socks and shoes on. This is a much written about subject – think it through mentally or do some googling. Make sure you can take your stuff in one go from the car, you don’t want to be rushing back to get something crucial.
* Swim. For Ryk Neethling types this is little more than a chore, for the rest of us this can be a really daunting section. It’s not that long and is a very short factor in terms of overall race time, BUT if you don’t know what you’re doing here you can ruin your day. If you’re not used to open water swimming, then be very careful here. It’s a rugby scrum at times, in the water. With high numbers expected try and find a spot with less people, this might not always be on the sides!
* Bike. Well you’re mountain bikers so this bit is a piece of piss. Not totally! It’s a tough ride on the long route. Most of the climbing is in the first half, but you’ll have to fight for gaps as long sections are single track with few overtaking points. On the way home there is the famous rock garden. This is pretty tight and technical. If you’ve had a decent swim and have pushed it up the hill then you should have an open ride here. Later on it apparently becomes a walk as people run out of skill and slow the whole gang down. If you’re walking its because you’re too far back – so there’s incentive to klap it in the first half.
*Run. You need to save some gas for this. It starts out fairly ok, but then heads for the hills. There’s a river crossing where you WILL get your feet wet, and then it goes up up and up. The last third is mostly steep downhill before the final killer of some soft white sand beach run. You can gain or lose a few spots here so grit your teeth all the way to the finish which is in sight now.
* After. This is not a cheap race(it’s triathlon afterall, which is a colloquial term loosely meaning ‘double the hype, double the price’). However they go to town with the freebies to justify it. There should be a decent spread at the finish with lots of yummy goodies.
Most of all enjoy it, you’re supposed to be having fun.