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And then a plane crashed on the bike course… « Caroline Koll's Blog


And then a plane crashed on the bike course…

Yesterday, the final race of the year in South Africa took place in Germiston, which forms part of the Greater Johannesburg. The reputation of Germiston is, well, at best a little dodgy! The race takes place in a reasonable (we never ask too many questions in these parts!) lake that owes it’s existance to the gold rush era and plays host to many canoeing events and sailing regattas here in Jo’burg.

Germiston Lake has often been good to me when it has come to racing, probably because I am from the ‘rough east’ myself, so I feel quite at home here. Last year I won this race, and it felt good. This year turned out to be even more memorable, with the most bizarre race experience that I have ever had!

The start of the race was delayed significantly due to a horrific traffic accident that took place nearby on the bike course. Eventually, the swim got under way, with the women going off first which was great, and Lucie Z quickly taking command of that one! I was also quite surprised at how quick some of the younger girls had become! After fighting arm tangling weeds, I made it out the murky waters. As soon as we could stand, the race marshalls began shouting to us to get our run shoes on – there would be no cycle and we would have to proceed straight onto the run! HHHHUUUUHHHHH?????

Turns out, there is a small airport just on the other side of the lake, and well, a learner pilot had made a “small” error of judgement, crashing his plane, slap bang on the bike course! Nobody was seriously injured, but what was freaky is that if the race had actually started on time, the pilot would have crashed his plane into athletes!


On realising the severity of the events, we could hardly thank the organisers from Troisport and referees enough for their rapid decision making!

The unusual events then resulted in all of us being thrown a bit off kilter, and having to proceed onto a fast 10k with the blood still sitting well between our arms and not the legs! Some of the girls went out really hard, but for me, having just come off my near fatal Ironman in Cozumel two weeks before, this was near impossible! I just tried to get my legs in motion as best I could, and thought I would make my assault in the last 5k by just forcing my legs. Starting off in 6th place, I made up some ground, making it up to 2nd place behind Lucie Z, and taking along with me the promising Lauren Dance, who simply would not get shaken off! It was really fun racing like that, so much more than what can be the lonely haul of an Ironman marathon. Eventually, when I thought both my heart and legs were going to explode, Lauren and I headed for the finish shutte, we hit a right turn with a barrier straight down the middle. Given my notoriously great eyesight, and well, the fact that it was not clearly obvious which side one was meant to run on, I headed to the right of it. Wrong move! Arrgghhh! Lauren, being slightly behind whipped around to back track, I thought of going over or through but was forced to also turn back, at which point Lauren had got the edge on me! I finished 3rd, and had great fun, even if I did not get the sprint finish with Lauren we certainly hurt each other out there!

One could never say that racing in Africa is not exciting!

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