My IronMan South Africa 2014

Another epic IronMan South Africa experience in the bag.

My 2012 trip was quite rushed so this year we made a more relaxed road-trip to Port Elizabeth with an overnight stop in Knysna. The road-trip included a stop at Buffeljagsrivier for delicious roosterbrood.

On Thursday we had lunch at île de païn on Thesen Island: it was a fabulous experience and we will definitely be back for their delicious baked goods. We then did some last-minute gear shopping to get a bento box and some fresh CO2 bombs. There are no less than 3 bike shops in Knysna, and the 2 that I visited were super-friendly and helpful.

I had hoped for a cycle but it was raining on and off so we settled for a relaxing jog around Leisure Island in the early evening.

We left Knysna on Friday morning early enough to arrive in PE for the official swim session. I know that some go and swim a fair section of the course but for me it is more of a social thing where you get to soak up the vibe of the other athletes.

We stayed with friends in Port Elizabeth on the Friday night, but checked into the Town Lodge on Saturday night. The extra expense is well-worth it as you have no stress on race morning getting to the start.

On Saturday afternoon I prepped my bike and transition bags. I taped my GU’s to the top bar of my bike and numbered them. Checked bike into transition.

On Sunday morning I woke up at 04h30 for a breakfast of oats, toast, juice and coffee.

Put bottle of 32GI on my bike, pumped up tyres. I had put a new tyre on my rear wheel recently; it had lost loads of air overnight and I was worried I had a slow puncture. I got one of the bike technicians in transition to pump both my tyres up and hoped for the best.

I pulled myself into my wetsuit and applied a thick layer of petroleum jelly to my neck to ease any chafe (I discovered this as the best solution at this year’s Langebaan Lagoon Crossing). Then it was across the timing mat and down onto the beach to join the buzz of athletes on the sand.


Perfect weather conditions at the start with warm water, warm air temp and calm sea and the lightest north-west breeze. The pros started at 06h30, and I started in the second wave at 06h40 (there was a third wave at 07h00). I am fortunate to be one of the lucky few who actually look forward to the swim: most everyone I speak to are pretty nervous about it. I think as a result I don’t stress; I just swim a bit wide to stay clear of trouble, especially on the turn buoys.

The new one-lap course followed the same basic shape as the old two-lap course, with just the main leg extending further in the direction of the harbour. 2 additional yellow sighting buoys were place on each of the long sides which helped with sighting for the turn-buoys. I was comfortable all the way through the swim, and enjoyed knowing that it was only one lap.

I was 345 out of the water with a time of 01:06:48. I am pretty sure I have a sub-60 in me.

Transition was smoother and quicker than I remember it being in 2012. Wetsuit off, helmet, race number, socks shoes on, sunglasses in vest. Gels, sliced apples and anti-chafe in back pocket.


New bike course is killer. I will admit it is absolutely gorgeous – particularly the “outer loop”, but the hills are relentless, and the coastal section exposed to the wind.

I managed to totally stuff up with the Garmin: I did not put it in multi-sport mode after changing all the display options.

My bike performed beautifully. One of the bolts of my new bottle cage loosened itself. Road surface is rough.

5 GUs. GU Lemon / Lime. 2 bags GU Watermelon Chomps. In 2012 I hit the wall at the top of Mount Pleasant at the start of the second loop, so this time I started my nutrition aggressively.

I was stung by a bee on the inside of my right thigh. Man: had I forgotten how painful that can be!

The new course truly is beautiful, passing lakes and private game reserves, but it be warned: it is hilly and the coastal sections are exposed to the wind!

Coming into T1 after the second loop, it was helmet off, cycling shoes and socks off, dry socks and running shoes, peak on, apple slices and gels in back pocket. I made a liberal application of Wintergreen anti-chafe.


Passing out of the changing tent I dumped my transition bag in the heap and crossed over to the sunblock team, asking the volunteer to “make me look like a snow-cone”. Unfortunately the damage was already done, and I ended up sporting some real “racing stripes” by bath-time.

Having had given it my all on the bike, the run simply never happened for me, and whilst I was in absolutely no discomfort whatsoever, there was nothing in the tank.

I mostly drank Coke and water, thankful that I did not have to stomach any more Lime / Lemon GU Brew. I had another packet of GU Chomps, 3 baby potatoes, and packet of cashews offered to me by a fellow athlete.

379 in Male 40-44 Category (total of 439 in 40-44 Category) 

3 ladies in the top 20, with Jodie Swallow clocking the 4th fastest swim time.

Name Country Category position Overall position Swim Leg Time T1 Cycle Leg Time T2 Run Leg Time Time Category
Nils FROMMHOLD Germany 1 1 00:48:16 00:02:18 04:37:11 00:02:21 02:55:58 08:26:06 Male PRO
Simone BRANDLI Switzerland 1 15 00:50:59 00:02:13 05:26:55 00:02:36 03:09:07 09:31:53 Female PRO
David FOX South Africa 278 1254 01:06:48 00:06:12 07:30:43 00:06:42 05:32:29 14:22:57 Male 40-44


Outdoor adventure enthusiast living on the Garden Route.

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