7th aug 1130am

London 2012 Olympic Race 7th Aug 1130am
After a restless night of sleep, I woke somewhere between 0600 and 0630hrs, watched my usual youtube videos that take my mind to a place where I can start to visualise what is about to happen in a few hours’ time. I had managed to find some oats at one of the Olympic Village cafes the day before, which I promptly had for breakfast. Wayne, my manager, had gone off to McDonalds to get my (and our) standard Cappuccino with an extra 2 shots of espresso. (I am a caffeine addict, developed from my love of the taste of coffee, but also a necessity to get me through some very long and busy days over the last two or so years). One of the drawbacks of drinking a great deal of coffee regularly is that you become desensitised to the effects of caffeine. I had therefore stopped drinking coffee for about a week to the lead up to the race to ensure my body would get the ‘kick’ come race day. Once I had eaten my oats, drunk my caffeine laden coffee, I went through my race bag one last time. There was no room for error, no allowances for forgotten kit as we would travel up to one hour to the race venue. A quick Beet-It shot and off to the transport department to catch my bus. (Beet- It is a beetroot based shot which there is scientific evidence to show it improves Nitric Oxide levels in your body http://www.chrisfelgate.com/beet-it.php). I had chosen to travel on the 0845hr bus to the Olympic Village, as I thought, from previous trips to the race venue, that the trip would take 45 minutes. This would allow plenty of time to get checked in, go through the millionth race and kit uniform check, a quick warm up and transition set up. This all to be ready for race introduction at 1110hrs. The bus only pulled into the race venue at 0950hrs. Some may ask why I didn’t go on the earlier bus. When you get to a high pressured race environment, you do not want to hang around in between checks and warm ups, to start thinking or worrying what others are doing. A 0930hrs arrival at the venue would allow for this. I now had lost 20 minutes. That millionth check by the race officials went smoothly, all because Wayne had painfully wiped all the TYR logos off my wetsuit (a new rule set by the IOC), Rudy Project had given me Olympic spec branded helmet and glasses which flew through the logo ‘scrutinisation’. My sponsored red TYR race suit conformed perfectly. I could then go straight onto the race course, put through my Silverback Space 1.0 through some efforts and ensure all was ready. It was. I got all my kit together, and went to transition. This was the first taste of emotion I was to experience on this day. I looked across the Serpantine (Lake in Hyde Park where we would swim) and saw the masses of people congregating on its edge. I then heard the shouts and looked across at the stands and barriers and saw them. My parents (who last watched an International race of mine in the year 2000), Nikki- my fiancée and fiercest supporter, my younger brother, Lawrence (who has physically shared both Olympic races with me) two sets of aunts and uncles with my cousins. Incredible, they were all there for me. I turned my ipod music up louder while I got my transition area ready. Asics DS Racers sitting outside the box, PeptoSport in the 2012 London provided water bottles, gels, elastics holding up my Sidi shoes. I had a final look at the barriers and stands, then at my bike, then took the quick jog back to drop my bag off in the athlete check in area. Vaseline over the arms and ankles, wetsuit on. Quick jog back past the stands to the pontoon to get a swim warm up in. I was really disappointed that it was a wetsuit swim. Not only do I fee constricted in wetsuits, the benefit it has to weaker swimmers is no where the same effect it has one me, a stronger swimmer, usually. The rules are 19.9 degrees and below, wetsuits need to be worn. The water temp was 19.6 degrees. After the swim warm up, we assembled in the athlete start area and lined up according to our start numbers. We would then get introduced and jog to the pontoon area. The pontoon was numbered 1-56 for the 55 athletes (there was no number 13). Pontoon position selection was done two days prior at the race briefing, based on your world ranking. I was ranked 51st in the race and thus got one of the worst selections, in the Walking onto the pontoon, we were told four minutes to the start of the race. This, I can honestly say, is the time I felt truly nervous. Lining up two metres behind the line, two minutes to the start, the heart beat sound track played ominously over the loud speakers. Standing there, I even let a pee out in my wetsuit! This was it! 60 seconds to race start, in the starters hands. Silence. Take your marks. Horn blasted, nervousness disappeared and the emotion, excitement and adrenaline pumped. I had a great first 100 metres, clean water, making good ground. I didn’t even feel constricted in my wetsuit. We got close to the first buoy and then I got hit. I have the philosophy in these packed races is ‘don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t want done to yourself.’ I can fight. I have grown up with waterpolo, a stronger younger brother who loves to get physical with a waterpolo ball in the water. I could have fought back but why? I have also become more conservative going into these buoys after I finally completed, what I call ‘my new front teeth’ with an implant last year, a very costly process that I have been dealing with for a number of years. I lost daylight as I went underwater at that first buoy. Disaster. This messed up my rhythm, my focus and plan. Time to adapt, 297 metres into the 1500m swim! I rounded the last turn buoy on that first corner and looked back, there were two or three swimmers behind me. This was not the position I wanted to be in. We then had about an 800 metre stretch where I just focussed my mind, relaxed and got into rhythm again. We would then need to round the top end corner which went a lot better than the first bottom end corner, albeit for my goggles getting kicked off. The final stretch to the end of the swim was roughly 200 metres and I had other athletes around me. I composed myself and started to plan for transition and the first manic few kilometres on the bike. As I hit transition I saw my helmet had been knocked off my bike and was lying on the ground on the other side of my bike. I quickly took my wetsuit off, threw it in the box (failure to do so results in a time penalty) and then ran around my bike to put my helmet on. This must be fastened before you can take your bike out the rack (or a further time penalty). Precious seconds were flying by. Sprinted to the mount line and the seven lap, 43km bike leg had I had come out the swim with fellow BSG Elite Team athlete, Richard Murray- representing South Africa. I normally am about 30-40 seconds in front of Richard so knew my swim was ‘off’ as we say. Due to my transition hick ups, I had lost a few crucial wheels to grab onto in the first few kilometres on the bike. I landed up in no man’s land for a while but was then caught by the third bike pack and stuck with them. This bike route was incredible. I have never, and probably will never experience again cheering and support like that. To have 200 000 people lining the route was unbelievable. The energy you can draw from this is immense. Our third bike pack rode strongly. We did have one of the best bikers in the field, a Brazilian- Reinaldo Colucci. The next pang of emotion hit as I went around Hyde Park corner and saw some of my oldest and best mates lining the corner and flying the Zim flag high. We reached Buckingham Palace turn around and another set of aunt and uncle with my cousin were there. Wow! How did I take all this in? I have no idea but all I knew is that I was in this race and had some of the closest support an athlete could ask for. As a result of a few attacks on the bike where athletes in our pack tried to get some time up ahead and reach the second pack; we slowly ate into this second pack and reached them by mid way through the bike. I was then in some great company, Aussies, Portuguese, German’s, to name a few. This was racing at its best and I was enjoying it! We did the 43km course in 59 minutes, so some of that training with the Northcliff Cycles’ guys in Joburg had certainly paid off. The run- a disaster in some people’s eyes but the end to an incredible day in mine. This run course would not suit me. I am a strength runner (ie. prefer hills) and this flat and fast course was definitely not up my ‘street’! I reached the first kilometre point in the race and was coming last. Tough to swallow but something I knew before the race might happen. The other thing about my racing is that I am a ‘slow starter’ in the run. Possibly something to do with age! I did not lose confidence and from experience know that some of the athletes would ‘come back to me’. After the first lap, I could see the Colombian and South Korean athletes up ahead. Motivation! I caught them both and for the sixth kilometre I ran side by side with the South Korean. His pace faltered and I pressed on, seeking for the next athlete up ahead. I could see Manni Huerta of the USA up ahead, however, I may have caught him, or may not have. The final lap of the run course, I was going to ‘enjoy’ as much as my drained body would let me. The back straight on the run course took you past crowds of people in Hyde Park. On one corner there must have been 20 people deep lining the barriers. These people were mainly Brits watching Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee take up two medal positions. However, this crowd also contained a great deal of my own old school mates (from 12 years earlier) and family. I decided to raise my hands in appreciation to the support and the roar I received back was immense. I will probably never feel this kind of feeling ever again and will cherish it forever. The final 400 metres to the finish line, I saw some more family, Nikki and Lawrence holding the Zim flag. Incredible and the feeling was a mixture of all kinds of emotions. Naturally crossing the finish line well after the leader had crossed and in the bottom fifth of the field, one is critical of the race and somewhat disappointed that I did not run closer to my ‘pb’ pace. However, all these moments and emotions on the race made up for it. The Olympic Race is very special and unique because every one of the 55 athletes can be proud to be on that start line. An analysis of the results showed me that had I bettered my ‘pb’ on the run, I would have come 35th- 40th. This shows what level the sport is currently at and I hate to think what times the guys in Rio 2016 will need to run! I had some incredible moments followed after the race, catching up with all my family and friends, seeing Greg Reis, CEO of BSG (Africa), my employer and loyal sponsor (https://www.bsgmultisport.co.za/elite-team). Knowing Rick Fulton was out there on the run course (Rick is president of Zim Tri Association and a technical official for the Olympic race) as well as Wayne out on the course meant a great deal. Rick was there when I did my first triathlon in 1994 at Mount Pleasant Pool in Harare. There are many people and organisations that have got me to where I am today and will try acknowledging everyone in a post to come. Thank You. There are more Olympic moments I will share, this caps off the race itself… Citius – Altius - Fortius
Faster – Higher - Stronger

Source: http://www.embark.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/London-Olympic-Race-Report-7th-Aug-1130am.pdf


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