Champion of Totalsports Challenge 2013

By : Christopher Wray | January 29, 2013 | Blog

Champion of Totalsports Challenge 2013

January 29, 2013

Our very own Stuart Marais did us proud at the Totalsports Challenge 2013. Harsh winds and harrowing external factors did not stop him. A time to look back & reflect on all that goes into a single day, 7 disciplines, 6 hours & lots of fun, racing & challenging the daunting Totalsports Challenge 2013. Check out Stuart’s race report!
Being a multisporter and passionate sucker for punishment, I arrived back in Gordon’s Bay for the annual TSC, a world class event organised by Stillwater sports. My preparation was short after a niggling injury towards the end of last year. I did what I could in the build up, trying to balance the quality & quantity over 4 very different & challenging disciplines in just 2 months.

Raceday. Early start & we (my seconding team) set off to Gordon’s Bay, amped for a big day. It seemed all our prayers for calm conditions had come true… until we arrived in G’Bay, to gale force SE wind! I quickly needed to adjust my race plan- I knew what lay ahead.

We set off with a blistering start & as expected, Dan was on the front. I found myself settling into a good rhythm about 30sec back in a group of 4 swimmers. We constantly jostled for positions around the many turn buoys in the 3 lap swim. I was comfortable, but knew the hard work was still to come. I quickly ran up the beach & tried to focus on time splits being shouted from supporters on the side. I heard 30sec, so felt comfortable that I would bring this back, especially in the windy conditions. I slugged down a Gu Roctane & settled into a good tempo.

Up the road I spotted Dan, so I slowly closed the gap & at around 15km we were together. I went straight to the front & we worked well together. Very soon James Cunnama caught us & us 3 made pretty efficient riding against a very persistent SE headwind.
Arriving at Arabella to a turbulent lagoon, I was well treated by my team & hastily sent off by a large crowd gathered on the shore. Everyone understood that this could well be the deciding leg as it was in last years battle. I found good rhythm again, trying to iron out some cramping niggles around the first 2 bouys. I was unsure about the route & turned too early. Fortunitely a team paddler spotted my mistake & helped me back on course.

I lost time, but limiting the losses now was key. I tried to stay in my bubble, controlling what I could. Dan was coming, but I felt good.

He went out wide to my left as he caught & I knew this needed to be his move. He paddled hard past me as I relinquished his wave. The gap was out to 50sec before i knew it, but then he eased. I tried to pick up the tempo without spending too much. I knew in my mind that I would need one last big effort if I really wanted to win, which I did.

I quickly found my rhythm & climbed steadily up the Highlands road. I felt pretty strong & knew Dan wasn’t far ahead, so I kept pushing without over doing it. One last ascent before a 3km descent to Kleinmond. I arrived to my seconding team who were prepared for the worst. The glow in their eyes when I arrived gave me an extra bit of strength. Bethie poured cold water over me before I headed out for the most challenging discipline of the day, a 9km beach run on an incoming tide. The split was 1:45. On any day I could close this down in a flash, but I was now nurturing thoughts of another possible 2nd place. I quickly closed the gap to 50-55sec, but the following minute would seem like eternity. At the turn around, we got a quick glance at each other & I knew I could do it. I started to find good rhythm & soon the gap was a mere 30sec.

We hit a hard section of sand & I dug deep & closed the gap. I knew this was it & smiled as I moved into the lead for the final time. I kicked again & moved the gap to a further 30sec. I had it now & tried to savour the moment of winning the Totalsports Challenge.

Congrats Stuart!


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