One of the iconic multi sport events of the Cape. A must do.
The Terra Firma is all the land based activities of the 7 discipline of the Total Sports Challenge.
50 km Road Bike
13 km Road Run
25 km Mountain Bike
9 km Beach Run
We arrive in Gordon’s Bay and the wind is blowing. Not desperate but strong enough for me to think that my sub 5h might not work out. We will have to wait and see how conditions change. Logistics is sorted out and I go for a 10 minute warm up just to feel the legs.
The siren goes off for the start and I find myself in a group of about 8 including HAnlie Booysen and Ann Harrison. I am by no means the most experienced in pack riding so I keep my wits about me for what is going on. I make some mistakes and touch somebody’s wheel. This is definitely something I will need to work on! I feel strong and do my bit of work. I am pleased that I can match the pace and am strong on the hills. 1h24 and we turn sharp right into transition. I have a 6 minute lead over where I thought I would be. Pleased but too early in the game to celebrate.
T1 is madness, Sean Falconer’s words are drowned out as I grab shoes and hand over bike to Roger. I settle into a nice pace for the run. Initially I have to throttle back and I sit on a guys heels and we run at low 4 min kays. There are a couple of teams that pass me but otherwise things seem to be ticking along. I settle into between 4:30 and 5 min pace. We hit the dirt road towards the end of this section and I am looking forward to the MTB. Gloves on while I run and then into T2 with a 55:26 split for 13km. Quite pleased with that too.
I hop on the saddle and cycle out of transition only to be faced by a monster hill. Dismount and push. Then cross the road and up Highlands. Head down and give it what I can. I don’t have the power I thought I would and as Roger said this is where the race starts. I get dropped by a few guys but I do what I can, the turn off gazebo is in the distance. Now onto jeep track and more up! Nothing technical but we follow a trail of oil. Obviously somebody has broken their sump and left a black line up the middle mannetjie. Tony had warned me about the descent so I was cautious and two guys flew past. Glad that I knew about it as consequences of getting it wrong would be nasty. The route is very well marked and I recover a little before the final sting. Grossvater gear is used and then the view to Kleinmond. I love the last km or so into transition. Such fun!
T3 in 1:25. By now I have 15 min in the bag. I feel I might need it as my calves are fried. I am over sugar by now but grab a gel anyway and head out onto the beach. I look for the hardest sand immediately, others run in the soft sand. I manage to hold onto slow 5min pace. Keeping cadence up is all I can concentrate on. The turnaround comes very slowly. I struggle to hold a sub 6 min pace and it drops to below that for a couple of km’s. I see the end and claw back. Finish in 53 min and total time of 4:38 and 11th overall!! See results here.
Very pleased with the outcome!
I sit in the Rehidrat zone for a while and drink the lovely ice cold juice.
What could I improve on:
My nutrition was always going to be tricky with the fast pace and high effort from the start. I stuck to my plan but having a gel so early in the day made me not want to touch anything sweet by the time I hit the beach. I would like to experiment a bit more with 32GI and see if I can use it in a more concentrated form instead of a gel. I think this might stop my stomach turning against sweet things early on.
I was strong on both run sections but I lacked power on the MTB. I would have to train this more and by getting stronger on the road bike. Not to get faster here but to feel fresher!
The beach run is always hard. Practicing this a bit more might help.
* You will need at least one dedicated person to second you. We initially thought that one person could perform that task for two of us but this is not possible. Traffic is busy and parking at transitions is not always super convenient so this puts a bit of pressure on. Get your second to leave Gordon’s Bay BEFORE the race starts to avoid having to drive past all the cyclists.
* The Terra Firma is no easier than a 70,3 event. I spent a similar amount of time on the combined bike as in 70,3. The combined run legs are harder.
* The road run is hot: hydrate and cool yourself down appropriately.
* The atmosphere is very relaxed and certainly more easy going than WTC events, especially in transitions.
You will have a blast! I will certainly be back to see if I can break 4:30!!