Dare to TRI!


Last year Modern Athlete ran a series of articles that challenged the runners amongst us to take up the Tri Challenge and compete in Ironman 70.3 in Buffalo City. The programme was a huge success and we had many novice triathletes following the training and finishing the 70.3, including our own editor Michelle Pieters. So this year we are going to do something similar, but this time we are going to take a group of novice triathletes and train, coach and guide them to the finish line at 70.3 Buffalo City. This will be known as the Modern Athlete DARE TO TRI Challenge.

Modern Athlete will select 10 athletes to follow a programme designed by our Tri Coach Derick Marcisz. These athletes will follow a basic programme with regular feedback to Derick, who will adjust each athlete’s programme to suit their individual needs as well as help them set intermediate goals for their training and the big event. The programme can be followed by ALL novices or newcomers to the sport, who should easily relate to the experiences of the Modern Athlete DARE TO TRI team.

In conjunction with the programme, we will run a series of monthly theoretical and practical workshops to deal with the various phases of the training, and where all athletes will be welcome to come learn about training and have a chance to meet the Modern Athlete DARE TO TRI team. These sessions will include invaluable practical demonstrations by top triathletes, such as how to move faster through transitions, mount your bike, swim with the correct technique, maintain your bike, change to the correct gears, and more. You will be taught and shown all you need to know about triathlon, from training and nutrition, to biking and swimming skills – everything you need to get you to the finish of your first 70.3 Triathlon.

Ironman 70.3 takes place on Sunday 23 January 2012 in Buffalo City and consists of a 1.9km sea swim, a 90km hilly bike ride and a 21.1km road run, with an overall cut-off of 8 hours 30 minutes.

The programme will start at the beginning of October and run for 16 weeks, finishing on race day. Training will be split into a number of phases, starting with base training and skills development, and progressing to harder sessions and finally a taper before the big event. The programme will be designed to make allowances for the fact that most athletes do the sport for fun, have fulltime jobs and family commitments, and would like to still enjoy some social life. The programme will require your full commitment, especially on weekends, but will make allowances for life’s usual distractions.

Firstly, you must be a NOVICE triathlete. This means you can be a runner, cyclist, swimmer or general fitness fanatic, but we are specifically looking at novices, or those with very limited sprint triathlon experience, and not experienced triathletes that want to improve on their previous performances. The aim is to have a good cross-section of gender and ages in the training group.

Secondly, you need to reside in the Greater Gauteng area, as you will be required to attend training workshops and hopefully participate in group training sessions.

You should submit your application to info@modernathlete.co.za. The application should include:
• Full name
• Place of residence
• Contact details
• Sex, age, date of birth
• Height, weight
• State of health and any medical conditions
• Running, cycling and swimming experience, if any
• Sporting goals
• A short motivation as to why you would like to be chosen as part of the Dare to Tri team
Application deadline: 20 July

Modern Athlete will advise athletes of their selection and they will then meet Derick to discuss their involvement. These athletes will be introduced to the readers in the September edition of Modern Athlete and will be expected to attend the first workshop at the end of September, which will be open to all readers.

At the start of the programme, the athletes should ideally be able to do at least two of the following:
• RUN: 10-12km at an easy comfortable pace.
• CYCLE: 40km continuously at a steady pace on a road bike.
• SWIM: Must be able to swim. (Swimming, although the shortest leg of a triathlon, is often the most daunting for novices. Our programme is geared to get you to a reasonably competent level of swimming fitness, to ensure that you finish the swim comfortably and well within the time limit.)

Speed is not important here, but ideally you should be able to comfortably complete these distances before you start our structured programme.

Each month Modern Athlete will publish feedback from the Modern Athlete Dare to Tri team on how their training is going and what the next month’s training involves. This will allow ALL athletes to follow the programme as well as relate to the experiences of the coached athletes.

The Modern Athlete Dare to Tri Team will all participate in the race in specially designed Modern Athlete triathlon kit and will be supplied with cool accessories both for training and racing. This is a golden opportunity to commit to a new challenge, receive expert coaching and support, and enjoy your journey to Ironman 70.3 with like-minded athletes!


Derick Marcisz has 41 years’ experience as a runner, cyclist and triathlete. As a runner, he has competed in track, cross-country and all road events, including Comrades. He has run 25 sub-2:30 marathons, with a PB of 2:17:17, and a half marathon PB of 1:05:36. Derick has two top 10 finishes at the Two Oceans Marathon, including a sixth placing in a PB 3:19.20. He has been involved in triathlon since 2000 and has competed in over 70 triathlons and duathlons at all distances from the Energade sprints to Ironman. Derick is currently coaching runners and triathletes of all ages and abilities.