Sean Van Staden
Columnist
3 minute read
31 Oct 2015
9:00 am

Just like a big, loving family

Sean Van Staden

It has been a long week for me but I am glad the weekend has arrived. Last Sunday I competed in a Discovery Duathlon and I want to share with you what it feels like to complete an event for the first time.

Let me just tell you outright, I am not a runner. Yes I can run, but I would rather be in a high action sporting game on a court or on the field than having to worry about the next big hill.

As I mentioned in a previous article, I hurt my knees in the early 2000s playing too much sport with poor technique and mechanics. You would think your coach would know these things, but to them drills are drills and it doesn’t matter how you do them, also long as you finish them. I had an op on both knees and then the doctor said I would never play sport again.

Yeah right, as if his words would stop someone like me that has been playing sport since I was five years old. I won’t lie; two hours prior to the race I had butterflies in my stomach because it was the fear of the unknown. Would I finish? Would I be ostracised if I had to walk sections of the race or push my bike up the hill? Would I hold up?

Let’s just say my mind was working overtime and it felt as if those butterflies had ADHD at the rate at which their wings were fluttering. The race began and something amazing happened. With every step I took I felt more and more at easy and strangely an exhilarating feeling came over me; a feeling of being a part of something bigger.

Remember that blockbuster hit movie Avatar? It is exactly that feeling; everyone is connected in some shape or form and everyone is working together toward the end goal. I have to take the opportunity to thank the friendliest security ever – Eyethu. They had people stationed right throughout the race and often myself and others would be cheered on, applauded and given the most comforting words you will ever hear in a long multisport event, “Well done sir, you are almost there, not far to go, keep pushing.”

Even though I knew I was nowhere close to the finishing line. What I also found quite interesting was that the people in the race were just super friendly. You know when you go to a restaurant and service is so good that your cynical side even asks, what do you want? It was like that, it was hard to grasp how collectively people were so nice, so helpful and so friendly.

I even saw Richard the Cow, a legendary serial racer who races to raise funds for the Choc Foundation and participates in all the major marathons, ironman and cycle events across the country in a cow suit and on an ice-cream bicycle. I saw him stop to help a lady whose bicycle gears had jammed and in no time had borrowed pliers from a Grayson Shell Garage, cut the cable and got her back in the race.

To sum up the event, it was truly an amazing experience with so many emotions and let’s not kid ourselves, it was hard and challenging at times, but most definitely do-able and something I would do again, just as soon as I regain feeling in my backside from the bike ride. I am so glad its Movember season and walking like a cowboy is the in thing.

If you haven’t participated in a multi-sport event yet, do yourself a favour and start – you will be hooked.