what makes offroad triathlon cool?
It’s away from the traffic and out of the city! Clean air. Nature in all her glory. Offroad triathlon involves a lake or dam swim, a mountain bike and then a trail run. A classic example is the XTERRA format, franchised worldwide after starting in Hawaii in the 90s.
Offroad triathlon revels in the outdoors; it’s normally held far away from the concrete jungles of planet Earth. If you’re scared of getting your shoes wet or are not excited about hurtling down bumpy tracks on a mountain bike, offroad triathlon may not be for you. Unlike adventure racing, navigation is not a factor, as routes are marked, and ‘short cuts’ are not an option. Standard format offroad triathlon events usually start with a 1,500m swim, then a 20-35km mountain bike leg and finish with a 10-13km run leg. Most offer much shorter distances for younger age groups and novices.
Goggles, a swim cap, a swimsuit or wetsuit (when required or allowed), trail running shoes and a mountain bike and its accessories provide you with the essential toys to participate in an offroad triathlon. On your mountain bike you’ll need an hydration pack or water bottles since this leg takes the most time. Mountain biking shoes or if you’re new to the sport and still gauging whether it’s for you or not, a pedal cage so you can ride in your running shoes.
Then there are the small useful items like sunblock (you’ll be glad the day after), energy gels (gulp these down with water should you go through a low blood sugar dip), a cap or peak for the paddle (the sun will be higher on the final leg and you’ll get less glare from the water too), and of course a spare tube and a bike repair kit.
training for novices
Since you’re doing three events and getting the cardio benefits from all of them, it’s easy to overtrain. Keep this in mind and for the first few months don’t get carried away with euphoria. Easy does it!
It’s not advisable to train your open water swims alone, even if you are experienced. A helmet is non-negotiable when mountain biking. South African law makes wearing of helmets while riding any bicycle compulsory. If you are training alone, make sure someone knows where you are running or riding but training with a partner is safer.
Staying hydrated during an offroad triathlon is fairly straightforward. Drink before. Do your swim. Drink as soon as you can on your bike. Then collect water sachets at the drinks points during your run. At the majority of events you won’t need a hydration pack during the run but it is advisable if you are going to be out for more than 90 minutes, even if drinks are provided en route.
contacts & events
There is no official multisport body in SA.
The big multisport events in SA include Totalsports Challenge in Cape Town, the Hi-Tec Southern Storm on the Garden Route and Triple Challenge in KZN.