Taper Tactics

Spec-Savers Ironman Triathlon, Port Elizabeth, 22 April


It is with suitable humility
that I apologise for ever having referred to Ironman as a fairly soft physical
endurance event! Yes, on a good day the water supports the body during the swim,
and the bike supports you during the cycle, so one is left “flicking the arms
over” and “spinning” for quite a long time. Then one goes on to jog a marathon,
still using energy, but not quite able to hammer the body. But when Mother
Nature decides to test you… Oh boy!


There we were, 1500-odd of
the original 1800 entrants, standing on the beach having been told that the
final decision to allow the swim to take place had finally been taken. Eish!
The lifesavers pulled out about 100 and there were some further 20 or so who
crawled onto the beach after the swim cut-off. No problem, we’ll recover on the
ride, right? Wrong! About two thirds of the 60km lap was into the teeth of the
wind! I kept thinking, “hang in there, Boet, it has to change,” – and change it
did! It got steadily worse by the lap! Imagine standing on the pedals in Granny
Gear and the wind blows you to a standstill!


Having done five of these
things, I usually take between six and six-and-a-half hours to do the cycle.
This year it took me eight hours! I made the cycle cut-off by a mere 12 minutes!
That still left me with a soft six-and-a-half hours to jog a marathon… But then
the rain came down! And what ugly rain it was, being blown into you from all
angles by a bitterly cold wind!


I made it, enough said… and
I am able to look myself in the mirror and say: “Ja, Boet, maybe your worst time,
but your best performance!”



“The wave swells were about
four metres high and the wind clocked in around 70km/h. Conditions were unreal,
but I’m glad it was a tough one for my first Ironman!” said a relieved and
happy Ruan after finishing in 13 hours and 35 minutes. The swim went well and
the cycle was tough, but in the last 5km on the run, I fell apart. My body told
me I was too tired, but knowing my dad was waiting for me at the finish kept me


Ruan is a facilitator at
Warriors Adventure Camp in Mpumalanga,
and also had his young Warriors family back home waiting to hear of his finish.
“The last 20km stretch is all in the mind, and I knew if I didn’t finish, not
only would I be disappointed, but they would too, so I just kept telling myself
to push through to the next lamp post, then the next, until the finish.”


He is no stranger to endurance
sport, having taken on the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour as a young boy and
joining a cycling club thereafter. “There was this guy in the club doing
Ironman and I knew from then, at age 12, that I wanted to do it!”