Monday, 10 April 2006
S.A. Extreme Sport How To's: Triathlon
By Jacques Marais
The origin of triathlon may be traced as far back as 1921, when the French combined swimming, cycling and running into a single event. The race was known as the “Course des Trois Sports” (or Race of Three Sports), but it took another 50 years before the dawn of modern triathlon events came about in California. The Ironman races on Ohau Island, Hawai followed, and the rest – as they say – is history.
Triathlon (also referred to as multi-sport in some countries), offer interested athletes a variety of ways of getting into the sport. First off, you can choose to compete in classic, on-road conditions, or alternatively get down and dirty in off-road versions of the sport. Distance is obviously a deciding factor, with anything going from 2-hour sprints to multi-day endurance events.
If dirt is your thing, the Xterra is top choice (that is, if you’re not keen to cross the boundary into hardcore adventure racing territory)! Face of against a 1.5km swim, a 34km mountainbike ride and a tough, 11km trail run, and get ready to burn up the course with some of SA’s top off-road athletes. If you really want to take it to the limit, events such as the Wartrail Tri offer 290km of trail running, MTB and river paddling.
If tarmac is your preferred territory, the classic Ironman events presented around the country should more than keep you busy. The 5FM/Energade Triathlon Series is a perfect springboard for beginners keen to get started, with a mini-format combining a 1km swim, 20km cycle and 5km run in a fun, family atmosphere. Other options include the Totalsports Challenge, an edge event including road cycling, mountainbiking, road- and trail running, surf skiing, K1 canoeing and swimming.
EAT MY DUST DIY:
We’re not talking ten-pin bowling here, so don’t expect to crack a triathlon in your first month. Work your way up the physical ladder, focussing on your aerobic fitness. It will also be important to concentrate on your skills within the various sporting disciplines, so spend a lot of time in the water and on the bike.
And while we’re talking wheels … in this game, it is very much about the bike. A light-weight frame that can soak up the knocks, fail-safe componentry and the right wheel choice for your route could take you from zero to hero. Other than that, all you need is a good Tri-suit, quality running shoes and sunglasses to make you look cool!
It is not only your equipment that will make the difference though - nutrition is key if you want to make sure you do not hit the wall halfway through the event. One final tip – triathlons are won or lost in the transition areas, so make sure you’re super-organised so as not to waste crucial seconds here.
Rooibos Iced Festival: Duathlon/triathlon weekend at Clanwilliam, W/Cape – firstname.lastname@example.org
Powerade Triple Challenge: SA’s biggest, one-day multi-sport event – www.triplechallenge.org
Xterra: Survival of the fittest in the world’s premier, off-road sprint race– email@example.com
Totalsports Challenge: Seven adventure disciplines, one awesome event - www.totalsports.co.za
Freedom Challenge: 2500km of insanity, including MTB, Comrades & Berg – firstname.lastname@example.org