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5150 Race Day Advice from Ray Tissink

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By Raynard Tissink of Raynard Tissink Coaching Academy

The 5150 Bela Bela Triathlon is just around the corner, so we thought we’d run through some race day tips and strategies for our beginners.

The 5150 takes place at Kings Beach, PE which is a fantastic venue, so be sure to take the family with you for a fun weekend or day out.

The first wave kicks off at 12h00, so there is no stress of an early morning rush to the start.  I would advise that you finish eating at least 2 hours before your wave start, and be sure to stay hydrated during the morning. 

Bike check in is between 9.30 and 11.20. Remember:

Once you are satisfied with everything in the transition area, listen carefully to the pre-racing briefing. If you are confused about anything, don’t be scared to ask questions.

It’s now time to get ready for the swim. Swing your arms and stretch a bit before putting your wetsuit on (about half an hour before your wave starts). Also remember the Vaseline or anti-chafe and sunblock.  Make sure the zip and velcro on your wetsuit is securely fastened. Pull the sleeves up to get some ‘space’ around the shoulder area.

I advise taking a GU Energy Gel before heading down to the swim about 15 minutes before your start. Warm up a bit with some freestyle and backstroke to loosen your shoulders up. Make sure you can see the swim buoys from water level. If possible, line the buoys up with something larger on the shore (a tree or building perhaps).  Now relax, breathe and enjoy the moment. This is what you have trained for so don’t let your nerves take over.

If you’re a weaker swimmer, start towards the back and on the side of your group. Take your time, let the mass go, and settle into your rhythm. Look up on every 4th – 6th stroke to make sure you are swimming on course. If you can get onto the feet of someone slightly stronger than you, this will also help pull you along.

The main thing to remember in the swim is to stay relaxed and to control your breathing. As soon as you tense up, your stroke shortens and you fight the water. Keep your stroke long, control each pull and relax your shoulders.  On exiting the swim, take your time, get your land legs back and walk or jog to the transition area. 

Helmet and shoes on and securely fastened. Sunglasses on and your race number clearly displayed. Now, head to the mount line, clip your foot in and away you go.  Start the bike at an easy pace, hydrate and settle into the ride. Don’t get caught up with all the cowboys starting off like lunatics. It will catch up to you later on. Only you know what training you have put in, and what pace you are capable of maintaining. Remember to take a GU Energy gel every 45 minutes during the race and stay hydrated by drinking a large water bottle every hour, preferably filled with GU2O. 

Pace yourself throughout the bike leg and try maintain a constant, smooth pedal stroke throughout by controlling your gears to avoid too much spinning. Make sure you unclip your foot before the dismount line. Walk/jog through transition and place your bike securely back on the bike rack.

Helmet off and running shoes and peak cap on. Start the run easy as your legs will feel heavy off the bike. As your legs adjust to running, you can start picking up the pace especially in the last few km. If you’re battling, walk through the water points and try maintaining an easy jog between them. Coke is great for giving you a boost in the latter part of the race.

Savor the finish line, the people cheering and the feeling of accomplishment at completing your first triathlon. 

Next stop – Ekurhuleni 5150 African Champs and then IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa!





The Raynard Tissink Coaching Academy offers personalized training programmes to help you achieve your best possible result.

Contact Natalie or Raynard to sign up with the Raynard Tissink Coaching Academy.

[email protected] 


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After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

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