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Annah Watkinson: Challenge Roth Race Report

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Every single one of you thinking of Ironman distance event absolutely has to put this on the bucket list. Take out a loan if you have to, but do it you must!

 

It was awesome to be in this amazing place with some good mates ready to rumble and race in 35+ degree heat.

 

To give some background to the build up I had recently joined Raynard Tissink and was excited and apprehensive of the new training regime – different from what I had been doing and I felt like I was taking a leap of faith of trusting the program on the basis of many discussions on what I wanted to achieve. I was aware that this race was soon after teaming up with Raynard as coach and that all the benefit is still to come (watch this space!). I have been very lucky however to have my partner in crime when it comes to training motivating and pushing each other during the frosty cold mornings in jhb – the P, I have come accustomed to seeing the ‘Kona’ on his butt around town.

 

There were three of us Safrs rocking up for a race of a lifetime and to make some great memories!

 

Race Goals

The first goal was to win, the second, more obvious goal, was to achieve a sub 10 and in the event it all fell apart to get across the line with my head held high and a race plan for Kona.

 

Race Day

The organisation is so phenomenal one never feels rushed or panicked. The three of us went our separate ways, getting quiet thinking of the day ahead. Myself wondering why I am racing? Potentially I should sip some Erdingers and provide some support for the other two?

 

The Swim

We leisurely got into our wet suits and started making your way to the start. There are many waves, however I was there to watch wave one (pros, sub 9 hr candidates and 27+ Challenge Rothers) started at 6.30am, my wave, wave three was off at 6.45am – watching the introduction of the pro field like I have never imagined was too exciting. Once the pros were off – I had a moment to look around the ladies that I was starting with – the nerves were building and again asked myself why? Annah would you be taking on this challenge? I didn’t have much time to over think it as were we into the water (wet start). The banks of the canal are surrounded with supporter – incredible, I could see some supporters riding up and down watching the swimmers and the hot air balloons on the left of the start…the heat had already begun. ‘Beep’ and we were off…I got into a nice rhythm finding some feet to follow. My newly found friend potentially was hating my life as I was slapping her toes left right and centre. It felt like forever until we got to the first turn around where were had caught the back markers from wave two (thankfully I think wave one was out – otherwise that’s just embarrassing). After the turnaround time flew by and before I knew it there was the helpers pulling me out the water and the announcer giving out my name and country – whoop South Africa!

 

The Bike

I ran through got my bike and started heading out, again I was taken aback at just how everything works perfectly, from the smooth roads, the amazing support and the helpers. I quickly found a comfortable pace – I wasn’t too comfortable for long, ladies game passed me that made me look like I was on a Sunday stroll – walking! I thought to myself – another international race with a dismal performance, urgh! So stick to second goal (sub 10) and lets keep it together. It wasn’t hard the scenery is magnificent and the road became my butts best friend (seriously I don’t think I felt one bump). As I was finishing the first lap of the double lapper, I was headed toward infamous Salzburg Hill. I have been told by so many different people about the stretch up Salzburg Hill. I know it’s coming but nothing in this world can prepare you for it, I had no idea of how powerful the moment is. As you come round the corner, this massive, brilliant mass of people with supporter paraphernalia is upon you – screaming for you. The noise is deafening. I have to sit up from my tri position and take it all in with a big smile on my face! I top the hill and cannot believe that I get to do that a second time….whoa! This is the life! On the second lap, I started noticing a spreading out of the competitors and slowly starting picking up some of the incredibly fast woman from the start of the race. I had passed about three girls that came flying past me in the beginning of the race. I had a quiet moment to myself – maybe this wouldn’t be quite as dismal as originally thought. I climbed Salzburg Hill for the second time – and I can tell you the doing it twice made no difference, all those feelings of OMG – WOW – What? – I am the luckiest person in the world to be experiencing this right now! Came slapping me in the face. I was now heading to T2…the run!

 

The Run

Again – the transition through the T2 to the run is so smooth (I swear Germany could slide uphill)…I ran out with the announcer giving out my name and country again. What a feeling! I started running into a downhill – I may as well have been in flat out sprint – nooooo Annah slow yourself! If you pace yourself well – a sub 10 is still achievable. Within the first 1km I picked up another two ladies – whoa! What is going on here? Annah it’s a long way anything can happen but you just keep putting one foot in front of the other – moving forward.

 

I got to cheer on some of the Pros – Go Rinny!! Eek too exciting. Phew it was now getting hot – winter training had not prepared me for this. Grab water and sponges – go for a mini shower!!

 

Before I knew it I was seeing P running in the opposite direction to me – he looked good and strong. Yay! I carried on to the first turn around, catching up a couple more ladies…I could see ladies leading and following at this point – I was sure I was somewhere in the front but not exactly where. At the 22km I saw P again I turned to see what km he was on – 34km! Lucky fish…grab water – smile at the kids, all out supporting you running after you cheering you – making you feel that they are there only for you. So special. Right home time! Whoop – as I was heading to the finish almost there – P had warned me they detour you…thank goodness – I could almost touch the finish line – sharp right hand turn. I wasn’t quite expecting this and what a pleasant surprise to be running through tables of beer drinkers screaming and shouting and then like a dream come true one km to go. On to the never ending amazing red carpet…high 5’s all around. I could see the stadium – finally home! Wait a minute I have to run around the stadium? What? Go go go!!

 

I look up at the clock – 10:06 – dammit! How is that possible? A German girl comes to greet me – assists me. I get a beer (alcohol free) head to the massage…What a day – I think I am burnt, I am definitely sore. Look around for P whilst laying on my back. A whistle goes off – whats going on I ask – oh its been happening all day, heat stroke or dehydration, the heat had taken its toll on many competitors. I finish up, found P – he says – you won your age group and you broke 10 hours! What? Oh yes I was wave three 15 minutes behind the wave one…OMG I did it – I sit in disbelief!!

 

Finally an international race to be proud of. Next stop Kona Baby! And what a lucky girl am I – 4 of my best girlfriends are coming to support! Can you believe it – better give them a good show – what you say Raynard? What’s not to trust?

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

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

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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