Enduroman athletes had a third and last chance to recce ride the course this weekend. With fantastic changes to the mountain bike course, everyone that joined the ride finished with both thumbs up! Once again, for the uninformed, Enduroman SA is an ultra-distance off-road triathlon, happening on September 27th in the scenic Franschhoek mountains. The race starts with a 2.5 Km swim in the Berg River dam, followed by 80 Km’s of mountain biking. The run leg is 7 Km’s x 3, making it a half marathon distance trail run.
The bike course has been partly redesigned with awesome results. Has it become a walk in the park? Most definitely not! Geddan Ruddock, course designer, has now put together a course you can tackle head on, but it will definitely leave a non-skilled biker (read: roadie) with a considerable (read: massive) time deficit. All your skills will be tested. The elevation has been diminished to about 1,900 meters, but 80 Km’s will wear you out, making it even harder to negotiate the single track, fast downhills, off-camber cornering, exposed roots, ruts, and all other MTB scenarios you can imagine. Quite a bit of “downs” followed by hidden “ups” will bring you to a standstill if you are in the wrong gear. And of course, the climbing bits: they are waiting in good measure! This is not an idle threat, it is simply a true story: if you are going to attack the climbs, you will pay the price. Take them on within yourself with a very steady rythm. It will save the day for you! On the opposite spectrum, there are some time-trial road sections where you’ll be able to regroup mind and body. The most treacherous sections, consisting of “loose rocky” downhills, and long rythm-breaking beachy sand streches have been taken out, upping the momentum a lot. Right now the course is fair, and on par with any other reputable mountain bike event. If you were hoping for jeep tracks only, stay at home!
As far as riding time is concerned, don’t think in terms of Ironman 70.3. Rather expect full Ironman time. The cold swim will burn some candles. Add the distance, and there are umpteenth opportunities to go over the handle bars should fatigue makes you lose focus. Cautious biking, within yourself, is cardinal. As mentioned previously, if you feel strong and fired up, pretend you’re not. Keep those candles in reserve.
Pack lube. We had some chain suck on the rides.There might be muddy patches, like we encountered on all three recce rides.
The run was the greatest surprise. Thoroughly enjoyable. Previously we could only cycle the run course, and hoisting the bikes up “The Wall”, might have skewed the perception of “do-ability”. It is very tough, but do-able, and as mentioned before, most of the elevation gets done in one go. The rock strewn downhill section is but for one or two short sections, 100% controlable and pleasantly fast. A specific grass-lump section through a vineyard is actually the most cumbersome part. There are two leg-draining sandy patches, but it finishes off with a nice fast section. Much happiness.
Pack a picnic basket. From a spectator point of view, there are lots to enjoy. Being a loop-based course, your loved ones can cheer you on all the time, especially during the run, when their support wil be much needed. Make a day of it!
The inaugural Enduroman SA is definitely an event worth looking forward to. Thumbs up for getting this race to South Africa. The course is sorted, the views breathtaking, and all of it waiting to test you. A positive spirit, good judgement and lots of fitness will get you through it brilliantly.
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