Two of our top para-triathletes ÔÇô Oswald Kydd and Chris Wagner ÔÇô were in action at the recent ITU World Championships in Beijing, China.
Kydd, from KwaZulu-Natal, went on to win his Tri2 category while Western Cape’s Wagner took fifth spot in the Tri3 class.
The two took time off to compile race reports of their eastern experience after Kydd clocked 1hr 20min 45sec to beat Morocco’s Mohamed Lahna by exactly five minutes and Wagner’s 1:26.39 was roughly eight minutes off British winner Steve Judge’s 1:18:50.
Here are their race reports
After a nice relaxing day at home I flew out of Durban at 5pm on Saturday. The flight to Dubai wasn’t as bad as I thought, however landing after 10pm local time on the Sunday wasn’t the best idea and being in a foreign country with people speaking broken English we finally got onto the bus after 12 and then had a hour bus ride to the hotel where we were staying.
I finally got to bed at 3am local time and slept until 8 where I promptly went and had breakfast after which I returned to my room and slept again until 12 at which time I got up and went for a short run around the hotel, not wanting to venture too far from familiar surroundings. At 1pm we went to register for the race which thankfully was just down the road. Around 3pm we went to Walmart which is a little different to our Checkers/Spar. I finally got to sleep around 8.30 and slept until 5.45 where we went and rode the cycle route.
Getting back we had a good shower and breakfast. I then had a nap to allow the food to settle. Around 11am. I went to the reservoir for a swim. The water was luke warm and was very pleasant. At around 5pm I went for a run with my room mate around the Hotel Complex. Just as we were finishing we ran past an elderly gentleman, who was finishing his work for the day ÔÇô he puts his hands together and bowed in amazement as we ran past him. The night turned out to be quite a long one I couldn’t get to sleep.
What a day today was. I left the hotel to go for an hour ride, which turned out to be a three hour ride after a few security issues regarding entrance back via the security gates. We eventually got a police escort back to the hotel. We then decided to go to Silk Street Market, and that in itself was an experience. It’s like an informal market of just about anything and everything. We eventually got out of there and then we went back to the hotel which was also quite an experience just looking at the how the locals drive and tolerate each other. I managed to get an early night.
Woke up quite late and dressed for breakfast. Shortly after went for a short ride up and down the main road close to the hotel. then got ready and left for the para-triathletes and handlers meeting. We spent about an hour being briefed as to what was expected of us there. We then got our race packs then went back to the hotel and got changed for a swim. Where after I went and relaxed and a snack before leaving for Opening ceremony.
The Chinese people really went out of their way to put on an extravaganza to welcome us to the Championships.
Woke up at 5.30am and went out for a short run around the hotel to get a feel for what was coming my way. Got back and relaxed until 7.30 and went for breakfast. Went up to my room and finalised my kit for my race. Roger Oakley, who agreed to be my handler, came round to collect it. I then napped until 1pm had two bananas and started to move to the race area and the Athletes Lounge where they did all the pre-race check in. At 2.45pm we started to our transition check in.┬áI was calm and relaxed as they eventually called us up one by one, we got in the water and waited for the horn. As it went I managed to sprint well enough for myself to actually lead a bit. However, I faded towards the end and exited the water fourth. Roger was fantastic in getting me on the bike, and I left it still in fouth place. By the time I covered the first 1km I was up to third and by that time my lungs were hurting and I started the only big climb on the course. Shortly after cresting the 12% climb I was in second place and within the next kilometre I was in first place. Maintaining a hard but steady pace to the end of the first lap, by that time one of the Tri-4 guys caught me up and I kept him within 15m for most of the second lap before his two legs got the better of me on the slight uphill drags to the finish line. I came off the bike feeling great as I took the last kilometre easier and went into transition feeling very good about my performance on the bike.
Roger was a star in helping me in transition again. We had to do four laps of an up and down type nature for the run alongside the transition. As I went past the transition the second placed athlete was almost two minutes down on me and third place not far behind him. Roger gave me a split on my second lap with me being 3.15 ahead. I kept pushing towards the finish line. I crossed in just over 1hr 20min, a full five minutes ahead of the second placed athlete who was 11 seconds faster than third.
All in all a very successful day of racing for me and for the hard work I put in. On the way home we almost lost Roger’s loan bike so we got a bit delayed, but we did eventually find it. On getting back to the Hotel I had a quick shower and went down to chat with some of the team members.
Having had prolonged illness for seven weeks, preparations weren’t ideal, leaving 14 days to prepare for Worlds.
From the “horn-blast”,┬á the main focus was to improve my swim time (my weak point) and try start this race off decently. Although managing to get a clean “push” off the pontoon, I was left ‘clamouring’ over various limbs and heads for a good minute or so, before pulling through into clean water. Basically I swam slower, rhythmical, strong strokes, moving large amounts of water per stroke… To my dismay,┬á I was still 90secs off the Tri3 lead pace.
Swim lessons learned: practice pontoon push-offs and introduce kicking into my regular swim routine. Since returning from China, have introduced “vertical kicking” between swim intervals ÔÇô and focused on my kicking during interval sets ÔÇô with noticeable improvement in swim times. (up to now, I haven’t had much of a swim kick at all)
T1: Transition still needs work, but having Lindsey Parry as my T1 & T2 helper smoothed things nicely. Our agreed T1 routine rolled-off without a hitch. Next was GU gel ÔÇô a good drink of water and off!
One thing that chews considerable time, is getting my right foot (disabled) cleated, into the pedal. (It felt like 50 seconds ÔÇô which is completely unacceptable)
T1 lesson learned: at the moment, I’m thinking of cleating the shoe into the pedal, and finding a way to enter the shoe directly, and safetly. I’m sure I’ll find a work-around with transition practice.
Once cleated ÔÇô sped off immediately, choosing the widest angle possible to corner the 180 degree turn. This (in hindsight) actually cost me more valuable seconds. The bike route was technically challenging with some sharp inclines, declines and tight cornering. Not being completely bike fit (or strong) resulted in my being “over-geared” (slow grinding cadence) for much of the bike leg. Oswald and I rode the bike course a few times ÔÇô and I definitely benefited from removing my tri-bars and decided to simply ride in the ‘drops.’
Bike lesson learned:┬á Practice T1 take-offs on the course (at actual race location) prior to the event.
T2 wasn’t bad ÔÇô with Lindsey assisting nicely with kit transitions. Again, a GU gel, a solid glug of water ÔÇô and off! I was happy with my initial 70% run speed – and gradually increased to 90% over the next 90 seconds.
With solid fitness, it’s possible to run 4min/km so my times weren’t too far out ÔÇô out of the three disciplines I was happiest with the run.
Although only reasonably conditionioned, China also taught many valuable strategic racing lessons. After London, I learnt just two real lessons. Post Beijing, I have gained surprisingly much tactical race experience, which will benefit my competitive triathlon racing down the line.
A special thank-you to Sharon and Roger ÔÇô their input was enormous and greatly assisted in easing the burden and stress associated with international travel. Wonderful attitude and commitment levels from both of you too! : )