Terheijden Long Course Weekend…

As far as small-scale events go, this one is as small as it gets… Only 12 athletes showed up for the first edition of the Terheijden Long Course Weekend: swim 3.8km on friday, bike 180km on saturday and run a marathon on sunday, sounds like fun!

After being brought to the swim-start by a local farmer it’s time to get into the choppy water. The first 3km we have to battle the waves and the wind, and with so few swimmers in the water it’s a solo challenge. I’m working hard, and after what seems to take forever I get to the only turn on the course: after 3km I turn right for the final 800meters, finally a bit more shielded from the wind. When I exit the water I look at my watch and am pleasantly surprised: a 1’07 swim is a new personal best time! Now time to get some food and rest before tomorrows ‘race’….

on our way to the start…

Continue reading “Terheijden Long Course Weekend…”

vidösternsimmet – Sveriges tuffaste simlopp i öppet vatten

Sorry, I tried to keep it short this time (how much can you tell about a swim?), but thàt hasn’t really gone according to plan… So here’s a long story about a long swim…

a short version for the impatient reader (spoiler alert!):
prerace – start – swim (repeat a long time) – finish

After two years with big goals (The Double in 2016 and The Triple in 2017), and a new big plan in the making for 2019 (more on that in a later blog-update… stay tuned…<edit: more on that plan here…> ), 2018 was supposed to be an ‘easy’ year. ‘Easy’ meaning: just a lot of fun stuff to do, and just enjoy myself without the pressure of a training-schedule that’s leading to a terrifying race… But with all the fun and ‘unimportant’ races this year, there was just one goal that I really wanted to achieve this year… A 20km swim!

So this winter I started to look for a nice place to go swimming: I wanted a ‘point-to-point’ course (so not a swim where start and finish are at the same place, I wanted to ‘go somewhere’), and although a solo swim (with someone on a boat for support) would be acceptable, an organised event would be more fun… And then I found the Swedish ‘vidösternsimmet’: a ‘21+km’ swim (that little ‘+’ after the 21km is a nasty one…) which is ‘Sweden’s longest open-water race’ and, according to the website also ‘Sweden’s toughest swimming race’… So, consider me interested 🙂

Coach Jacomina didn’t advise against a goal like this during my ‘easy year’ (which should have had me worried from the start!), and even decided that she would join me for the event (which should have had me even more worried! But it also helped to have some company during the long training-swims!), so we went to Sweden for a little swim (with a little race in Denmark along the way)… Continue reading “vidösternsimmet – Sveriges tuffaste simlopp i öppet vatten”

Thor Beach Triathlon – You against nature

Thorsminde, Denmark – august 4th – 5.59AM

I’m on a beach, staring at the ocean, where every wave seems to be bigger than the last one. The sound of the waves hitting the shore is interrupted by a man with a microphone, saying a lot of stuff in Danish that I don’t understand, and then, at 6AM, the people around me start running into the water, and I do what everyone would normally do in a situation like this: I start running as well… This is the ‘Thor Beach Triathlon’, advertised as ‘Denmark toughest triathlon’, so this might just be a fun day!

The plan seemed so simple: next week Coach and me swim the 21km vidosternsimmet in Sweden, so a nice half-iron distance triathlon somewhere on route would seem like a nice way to start the nordic vacation… After a bit of searching I found the ‘Thor’, and in full ‘Forrest-Gump-box-of-chocolates-never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get’ mode we signed up.

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The Oner: 2 – Me: 0

…when everything goes according to plan… until it doesn’t…

(The Oner: 132km of running over the UK south-west coast path, with lots of hills, and an average dropout-rate of 50%)

After not finishing Brutal Events’ The Oner last year (short version: I timed out at checkpoint 8 (90km) after a hot day with a ‘sub-optimal’ amount of food and electrolytes…) I knew I had to come back for a second chance…

This year Coach Jacomina would race as well, so it was nice to have some company during quite a few of the long runs in preparation! To be well prepared we flew to the UK a few weeks ago to run parts of the second half of the course. We knew it would be hilly, but the real challenge this year would be the mud…

Dorset, April 7th 2018 – raceday

Registration is fun and easy; after picking up the timing-chip and gps-tracker, it’s time to have the bag checked (a safety issue; just to make sure that you have everything needed to get through the night in one piece…), and then it’s time to catch-up with some of my Brutal-friends….
When the mini-buses drive to the start (race HQ and registration are at the halfway-point), the length of the drive does indicate that it might be a long run today…

Precisely at midday we start running; the sun is shining (that’s a plus, since everyone anticipated a lot of rain), the view from the coastal path is beautiful, and the first hills are really, really steep, hard, but fun! So fairly happy I reach CP1 (where I’m welcomed by Jim with the words: “glad to FINALLY see you run…”, that’s the downside when athletes and crew have seen you at your lowest of lows in previous events…). Continue reading “The Oner: 2 – Me: 0”

the Triple Brutal Extreme Triathlon…

“…all that it takes… is all that you’ve got…”

It’s just a small line on the Brutalevents website, on some of the Brutal t-shirts and on the banners at the Brutal events, but I never really thought about it… This time it’s different… At the end of The Triple I knew it: “all that it took was all that I’d got… and then some more…”

Don’t expect this story to be about a fast race, or even about a race at all, The Triple was more an expedition than a race for me, it was slow, it was long, and although it was physically not as bad as I expected, mentally and emotionally I had to dig deeper than I could have ever imagined…

This is a long race-report… And I’m not going to apologise for it, or write a shorter version. It’s been an epic adventure, and it deserves the full story…

The Triple Brutal Extreme Triathlon
– 12km swim – 560km bike – 126km run –
(how hard can it be?)

After the Double-Brutal last year it somehow seemed like a good idea to go for the triple… So after a year of hard work it’s time to get back to Llanberis! This time there’s a huge Team joining me: my big brother Daan is racing the Half-Brutal, Nick is doing the Full-Brutal, Jacomina doing the Double-Brutal, and then there’s the support-crew, known as TeamNL: Annick, Inge, Linda, Maike, Ron, Stijn, Tamara, Tanja and Thijs, and Mark as the non-Dutch member of TeamNL (and later, unplanned, Jim on the lake-lap). So a nice holiday in Wales with a good group of people, sounds like fun!

a big part of #teamNL (without Inge, who wasn’t at the friday-racebriefing…)

Llyn Padarn, saturday september 16th 2017, 7.27AM

All the half and full-Brutal swimmers are waiting in the cold water of Llyn Padarn, but most of the double and triple athletes are still on the shore when the start signal sounds. No need to waste precious energy by being in the water any longer than necessary! I go in, and quickly find my rhythm. Slow and steady, and I get used to the temperature; it’s cold, but not too cold, and I feel pretty relaxed… The views from the lake are amazing; the sunrise over the mountains, the clouds above the lake, and, especially when the half-and full athletes are out of the water, the lonely swimmers and kayakers in the distance…

a nice and relaxed atmosphere before the start…

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the TripleBrutal in numbers…

The body and mind are still recovering, and a long race-report will follow, but for now: here’s some data of what goes on during a triple-irondistance triathlon on a hard course… With a big thank you to the most awesome support-crew, who took care of me, and still found time to write down some statistics during the race…

The Triple Brutal Extreme Triathlon in numbers:
  • 12.540 meters of swimming (equals 502 lengths in a 25m pool)
  • 561.870 meters of cycling
  • 124.020 meters of running (equals almost 3 marathons, or 310 laps on the track)
  • total time: 66 hours 33 minutes 16 seconds Continue reading “the TripleBrutal in numbers…”

August update…

sometimes your memory can play tricks on you…

It’s a sunny day on the bike, and I’m riding on the Brutal course. Somewhere during the terrible climb to Waunfawr I know the climb has to end after the next corner; I know from last year that it’s slightly longer than you would think, but this time, after that next corner, someone decided to move the little village even further uphill! I forgot; the climb isn’t ‘slightly’ longer, but it’s ‘a lot’ longer (and steeper!) than you would think, even if you know the course!

The Big Brutal Swim is always a good excuse to come to Wales and do some training, and enjoy the pre-Brutal nerves. A week of swimming, cycling and running around Snowdon it is, with all the variations in the weather that you can expect; it’s been cold, rainy and stormy, but also nice and sunny… Continue reading “August update…”

July update…

back to where it all began…

Sometimes I forget that it’s only been 4 years since my first irondistance-race… What once started as a ‘once in a lifetime’ thing turned out to be a serious addiction, and it kind of spiraled out of control from there…

So after my debut at the 2013 Challenge Roth I’m now back on that course again, but just to do an easy swim and bike (and run, although that was not on the actual course, and with the heat it surely isn’t ‘easy’) on te days before the race, so that I’m totally free to support some friends who are racing in Roth this year. It’s great to be back, the atmosphere is unlike any other race, and when the gun goes of on race-morning I feel kind of sad that I’m not in the water myself… Continue reading “July update…”

June update…

…a 1/6th triple…

I’m in the water at the start of a small-scale middle-distance triathlon. The speaker announces that the start signal will be a gunshot, and seconds later we hear a horn. A lot of swimmers decide that a horn and a gun sound alike, and they’re of, while most of us stay behind confused; will the marshals find a way to send the early starters back to the start, or will this now be the new ‘official’ start? After a few nervous moments all swimmers get lined up again, and we’re off for the actual start of the race…
Today the plan is simple: take it easy… It’s going to be a hot day, and I’m telling myself: ‘it’s not a race, it’s a training-day…’ So I swim as relaxed as I can, and I’m actually not too happy to be at the swim-exit after 2,5km. I am really having too much fun, and want to swim a bit further… And being as relaxed as I am, I’m actually swimming faster than expected! So this is going to be a good day…
On the bike I’m also just enjoying myself, trying not to make a race out of it. I just accept it when people overtake me, and I just ride at my own easy pace. During lap number 3 (of 4) I realise that I’m taking it a bit too easy, but I’m not really bothered by it… Continue reading “June update…”

May update…

It’s a weekend filled with good company, camping, talking about past and future adventures, and three days with three races… The campsite is packed with teammates, some who run one day, some two and I run for three days (well, that shouldn’t be a surprise…)
The first day is easy, it’s a small scale night-trail of about 17km, and it’s all about going slow and conserving energy. On day two I run 32km, and it’s getting hot… So things start to hurt a bit, but I’m still having fun! On day three there’s only a marathon to go, with quite some elevation on the course… Luckily my friend Jeroen, who has some fresh legs since he hasn’t been running the previous days, decides to stay with me, and we’re off for a nice long run. A beautiful but hard course follows, and my legs are trying to tell me that it’s been a long weekend… Jeroen speeds away from me at every climb, and I tell him that if he wants, he should run his own race, but he decides to stay with me. Until at a certain point I reach the top of the hill and he’s gone… So now I’m on my own, and I’m fighting my way through the race, hoping to see the final aidstation after every climb… When I finally reach the aidstation Jeroen is there waiting for me, telling me: ‘let’s go, I’ve been waiting forever…’. Continue reading “May update…”