Last weekend I entered a triathlon. No training. No special gear. No mercy.

The XTERRA Grabouw triathlon is the largest off road Xterrain the world. There is a full triathlon: a 1.5km swim, 25km ride, 10km run. The lite is 400m swim, 12km ride and a 5km run.

You can enter as an individual or you can enter as a team of three, each of you doing one of the legs of the triathlon. I entered the lite race as a team, and I was responsible for the run. Iâ??ve run 3 Knysna half marathons â?? how hard could this possibly be?

HARD!

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Triathlon Donâ??t #1

Donâ??t camp the night before, setting up your tent downhill and having to snuggle with teammate the Rockstar on a single blow-up mattress.

My team woke up tired and sore and grumpy. Not the winning ingredients for success, let me tell you. I camped with about 10 others, who were the very definition of â??morning peopleâ??. I, by definition, am not.

Triathlon Donâ??t #2

Donâ??t drink too much coffee before the race.

The Flatmate, who started with the swim, said nothing prepared her for swimming with 600 other bodies in the water. She has been training in the gym swimming pool, and felt quite confident that she could manage 400m comfortably. But all those hands and feet thrashing in the water… itâ??s like the RedHanger sale at Edgars. With the housewives.

We all stood on the bank of the dam so see our teammates off. It was cold, and I was tired, and I treated myself to some complimentary caffeine. That… was a bad choice.

Triathlon Donâ??t #3

Donâ??t eat unripe fruit the morning of, unless you are a constipated granny.

After the Flatmate had set off, we ran to the transition area to prepare. The Rockstar was doing the 12km cycle, and had to wait for our swimmer, and I in turn had to wait for him. I thought I had some time, so I started chowing the plums I brought. Unripe yes, but too late now I thought.

Bad idea. The Porta-loos were not of World Cup standard.

Triathlon Donâ??t #4

Donâ??t forget to bring water into the transition area.

Too many trips to Porta-loo, followed by nerves that were amplified by the caffeine, I now needed liquid, and lots of it. Feeling too scared to leave the area (as the cyclists had left for their leg at LEAST ten minutes ago) I was forced to ask around, like the triathlon newbie that I was.

So despite my very cute outfit, it was clear to the vets that this was my first time. Fail.

Triathlon Donâ??t #5

Donâ??t eat the jelly babies at the water stalls – THEY ARE JUST FOR SHOW.

When I was tagged by the Rockstar, who said the track was sandier than Aladdinâ??s goatee, I was readier than ready. The first bit of the track was quite pretty, and cooled by the trees, and I thought to myself, youâ??re all right, you are. Come the first water station I grabbed some H2O and heck, the jelly babies too. The uphills started, and I was man down. I was trudging up gravel, losing my footing at every turn.

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The ill-planned jelly babies were rattling like cement figurines in my tummy. Wading through a river (yes, an actual river), then running the last two kilometres in thick sand left layer upon layer of mud on my already soaked takkies. I must admit I had a chuckle at the mental imagery of a n00b triathlete who neglected to train, forging ahead on feet of clay.

When I saw the finish line, I managed a skip and a jump for my delighted teammates, who by this time had high fived, showered and gone to a wine farm for lunch, come back and found me STILL on my five-kilometre run. Hooray! I was done!

And that dear readers, is how NOT to do a triathlon. On how TO do a triathlon, wait for next year when I make my feeble attempt again – this time Iâ??ll be doing the whole thing!

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