Trying to remember all of Johan ‘JB’ Bronkhorst’s advice from the day before, I checked in my bike, hung up the bike and running transition bags and then casually made my way through to the Trifactri team Gazebo. Familiar faces were all about. A lot of supporters had travelled up from Johannesburg to Sun City and everyone knew it was my first race. The questions and comments had been flying about, ‘are you ready for this?’, ‘just have fun’, ‘don’t forget to smile for the cameras’ etc. I nodded in nonchalant approval. Those butterflies that were floating about, suddenly felt like gigantic bats fluttering about in my belly.
Breaking my nervous concentration, I was tackled by Lucie, with a very big good luck hug. “You will be fine Kish, trust your training,” she said in her distinct Czechoslovakian accent. I took one more deep breath. Out popped my awfully happy looking coach Jess, with an equally big reassuring hug and a comforting smile. I was nervous, but a lot calmer after seeing the coach. She knew that I knew this would be a challenge for me. We took the dreaded walk down to the pre-race briefing, at the water’s edge. Some last minute advice was passed on from the Jess, with some additional motivational words from Werner, Karl, Niel, Neil, Johan, Aminda, Paula, Kirsty and Monica. To be honest, I was so zoned out, I cannot actually remember what they said, but I am certain it was positive (I listed you all here because I was actually aware that you said something, I am just not sure what, but I appreciate it none the less).
The race had started. Having watched and swam with Lucie, Jess, Craig and Ty, who move through the water like a hot knife through butter, I felt more like a plastic spoon. I got the job done, but force was required, friction was felt and slicing through that ‘butter’ was not perfect. I did what I had to do to survive. I did have a far better than expected swim. An unfortunate ten minute delay in Transition One for a technical issue put a dampener on my race. However, a good bike (with some encouragement from Jade) and a good run after that made me smile a bit more. It was not my best performance, but I finished my first race and I finished strongly. I was both relieved and happy. I would definitely learn from the mistakes I made in this race. I was so grateful for all the support from the team. I would not have done what I did without the team and coaches shouting for me every step of the way.
But this blog is not about the details of my first race, but as the title descriptively indicates, why join a triathlon club like Trifactri? To answer that is very simple. It is the professional level of coaches and the assortment of team members that make you want to join Trifactri. No matter what level of a triathlete you are at, there is a place for you at the Trifactri club. Trifactri accommodates beginners, intermediates, age group elites and professional triathletes.
When I joined the club as a beginner, I never expected to have as much fun doing triathlon training as I have had so far this year within the Trifactri team. The people I have met, the friendships I have made and the memories I have added, have impacted my life in such a positive fulfilling way. The Trifactri club is not just a team, we are one big family. Granted, we are more of a dysfunctional family, who love putting their bodies through heaps of pain, but a supportive family none the less.
Trifactri have the highest standard of coaches and are arguably one of the best upcoming triathlon clubs in South Africa. Head coach Lucie Zelenkova is not just a phenomenal professional triathlete, with an amazing race record. She is a coach of the highest order, having coached a number of athletes to world champs or straight into Kona. If you are coached by her and follow her process, you will improve beyond your own expectations. She is a top level coach, but as recently as a few weeks ago, proved that she is still a top level professional triathlete at the Challenge Taiwan Long Distance Race. I, like many others watched in awe at Ironman PE as Trifactri coach Des Dickinson (a lady who has Kona behind her name), aided para-triathlete Helen Susannah Webb to cross the finish line. It was sheer inspiration for anyone who ever wanted to do a triathlon. She assisted Helen whilst still coaching many athletes to complete their own Ironman race. Then there is my coach Jess. I praise her a lot already, but she deserves it. I have swam with her, run with her and cycled with her. Among her many honors, she recently won the Trinity Germiston Standard Triathlon. I have learnt more from her than anyone else in this sport. She is patient, persistent, motivating, strict (don’t get her angry with red stuff on training peaks), always there for you and always pushing you to be better. If you are starting out in this sport, I would strongly recommend calling Jess up, she will take you from nowhere to somewhere very quickly.
I am equally inspired by some of the accomplishments of my team mates. At the recent Sun City Ultra, I saw Jimmy, Nicola, Johan and Geoff do exceptionally and ridiculously well, only weeks after cruising through their Ironman race in PE. I watched as Ryan dominated his first race, or the likes of Mark and Alastair do their first half, both finishing off strongly. I saw Janine, Sam and Bev, blow the Ultra course away, reminding everybody moms CAN DO EVERYTHING. I watched as Paula, injured before the race, knowing full well she could barely run, brave the sprint race and finish. I saw my weekly track pace partner (the lady I chase around painfully every week), World Champion Kim Dovey, one of the most humble ladies I have ever met, remind everybody why she is the champion that she is with a stellar performance. I saw my old high school mate, Trifactri team member Kirsten Schut, make her race come back after a horrific injury and still win her age group. I saw my friend Jade, who has worked tremendously hard over the last few months, absolutely rip through all her competitors, winning her age group and finishing second overall - just behind pro triathlete Annah Watkinson. These are just a few stories that inspire, drive and encourage me to do more, to want to achieve more and to always tackle more challenges, pushing my limits to the maximum with the Trifactri team.
So why join a triathlon club like Trifactri? You have coaches who will push you beyond your expectations, if you commit to your training. You have team mates who will push you to be better, whilst making sure you still have fun. Triathlons are an individual sport, but undertaking any races with a solid team like Trifactri backing you, you will achieve a whole lot more and you will never feel alone!