The Freshpak Fitness Festival in Clanwilliam is in its 26th year. And I can see why! A brilliant weekend away featuring a fun-filled day of running, swimming, duathlon, biathlon and triathlon aimed at all levels of athlete. I suspect there were many first-timers enjoying their début in triathlon.
We drove up to Clanwilliam on the Saturday morning. We arrived at the dam just in time to see the 09h00 start of the 1.5km and 3km swim events. We set up the new gazebo near the registration tent, and enjoyed the great vibe as the day’s events happened all around us. It was great to see all the kiddies taking part in events — good to see the little ones enjoying being active.
The whole event was superbly organised with an excellent layout accommodating all the different events, and loads of helpful, friendly marshals around. Registration was in a massive marquee and was also a very slick operation.
The transition area was set out on grass with dirt roads. I carried my bike to keep the tires free of anything that might puncture them. All your gear had to be inside the cardboard box next to the bike racks.
The triathlon start under the huge Freshpak arch saw us swimming up the dam to the left to the first buoy. The gentle sandy shoreline made for an easy fast entry into the water. There was a fresh breeze blowing, and this first leg ran almost straight into the chop it had created. Instead of heading straight to the buoy, I chose to line-up on the right of the starters and head out a bit before swinging straight into the chop at the buoy in clean water to avoid the “washing machine”.
There were plenty of safety peeps on SUPs and surfskis out to keep an eye on the safety of the swimmers. After turning on the first buoy, there was a long leg back down the dam to the second buoy before heading back to the shoreline. The water in the dam was the perfect temperature, and was clean and clear, making following feet easy. It also didn’t leave you feeling like the enamel had been stripped off your teeth like a swim in Silvermine Reservoir tends to do!
Out of the water and into T1. I had a bottle of water to rinse the sand and grass off my feet before putting my cycling shoes on. I left my race belt and number behind, and had to go back to fetch it. Such a beginner’s mistake.
The mount line was at the bottom of a fairly steep, but luckily short hill. It did make for an interesting start as your heart-rate is already fairly high after the swim, and after the excitement of T1.
The bike leg headed out of the grounds of the Park, through the streets of Clanwilliam, and then north to the turnaround. The out-and-back course was welcome in that you know what’s in store for you for the second half of the ride, and you get to see the other competitors. The headwind coming back into town was not welcome, however.
I have not raced in a draft-legal triathlon before. I missed my tri-bars. As I am a fairly strong swimmer and cycling is currently my weakest leg, I was hoping to pick up some stronger cyclists as they came past. A great strategy in theory, unfortunately I was not comfortable on the bike and didn’t manage to hang on to anyone for any significant length of time. I need to get on that bike! I also need to have a different fuelling strategy for short-course racing as I think I overdid the carbs early on.
Coming back down the hill into transition was fairly tricky, and I had to brake super-hard to stop before the dismount line.
I had a lightning-fast T2 before heading out on the run. The run headed out of transition and straight up a little hill on a dirt road. The course was then a mix of dirt road and some tar.
I got chicked 25 times, including by the first Junior Lady!
|David Fox||01:26:49||116 / 401||19 / 59 Veteran Men|
|Dave Morison||01:04:49||1 / 401||Overall winner|
|Michael Lord||01:06:38||2 / 401||1st Junior Man home|
|Vicky van de Merwe||01:09:08||8 / 401||1st Lady home|
|Mark Moir||01:09:33||9 / 401||1st Veteran Man home|
|Celeste Renaud||01:18:54||53 / 401||1st Junior Lady home, 7th Lady home|
Prize-giving was held at 19h00 in the marquee. Folks then had the chance to eat and relax before the after-party started. I had been up since 05h00, so we pitched our tent on the far side of the Park (where the transition area had been set-up) and turned in early. Next year I’ll be sure to sleep over on the Friday as well so that I can be up to join the fun.
The only negative experience we had was due to a group of people (locals, not competitors or supporters) on a campsite next to where we had the gazebo who played (very loud) music from their car, and under the influence of large quantities of alcohol behaved in a manner that would have made the prostitutes on Kenilworth Main Road blush.