Its the week you’ve been waiting for and we are all super excited!  But too excited could cost you – STeve Attwell from Embark | ATC gives you the heads up on what to do, what to pack and where to go!

Before you leave home and set off for the  Big5 Sport Challenge, make sure you have packed appropriately. Its winter and it rains, and there is mud! So bring a different set of kit for each race. After all, it’s the 10 best days of Winter and there is no ways we are doing washing!! And remember it’s the club champs too, so have some branding to represent your club!

Race 1 – The mountain bike. Expect it to be muddy, expect some rain, and expect it to be a bit nippy to start and even more nippy in the forest! Think your gear through, bring layers that are easy to get off and pack into your jersey pockets, because in Knysna, you can also expect the sun to come out! The BIG5 crew will collect your bike, wash it and lube it ready for the next one!

Have a few old newspapers at home to stuff into your shoes if they get wet. While the newspaper draws the moisture out the shoes, you can lazy on the coach with a glass of red and the Tour De France.

Race 2 – The swim. Only the brave huh? Only the brave will swim without wetsuits, and I might put some money on Theo Blighnaut being in only a speedo! The cold canal won’t slow him down. But I won’t be one of those. I will have booties and hoodies, and if allowed- glovies too! And if I make it, 10 promo girls to strip me of my wetsuit, dry me, cloth me and warm me up with hot chocolate and a rerun of yesterdays Tour De France stage.

For today’s race I suggest putting your wetsuit on at home where its warm and arriving in it. Standing around in your wetsuit will keep you warm pre jumping in. Bring your biggest fluffiest slippers too, no one judges in the Big5… ok well Dean Hopf will take a snap and tweet it, but you’ll be warm so its fine!

Race 3 – Trail Run. You have a choice of 3 time slots to do this race. My advice, do the early morning. Get it over with. Then come down to the start later on in the afternoon and laugh at those about to run as we sip on a glass of red with our feet up watching the Tour De France.

This is a tough but magnificent trial run, open only to the athletes competing today. Try to look around at the surroundings if you can while you run, its stunning. The views have only be seen by 238 people, well its actually only 229 as Paul Ingpen has done it 10 times! We get boated across to the start and you can leave your warm stuff on the boat once on the other side, so save your energy and dress warm while we make our voyage across the lagoon.

Race 4 – XTERRA. Thank goodness this is a run-bike-run and not a swim-bike-run. Rack your bikes and leave your shoes as wide open as possible cleated into your pedals. I also advise to run the first run with your riding gloves on, as it wastes time trying to do that in T1. The less fiddling the better. The start of the run is frenetic and lots of weekend warriors will race off, flat boxing to get a 15 second attempt of being spotted by the airborne GoPro on the drone. (I am not mentioning names, but Gert Wilkins). If you are behind this set of glory runners you will be held up as they fatigue at the first set of single track uphill hell, (I am not mentioning names, but Gert Wilkins).  So perhaps go for that 15 seconds of fame yourself and stay ahead of Gert Wilkins.

The atmosphere at the field of dreams is incredible. There is music, beer tents, food stores, Bedouin tents, fires and loads of bean bags to mooch on and soak up this atmosphere. It’s a great opportunity to bring the wife (or husband) and kids as there is lots to do for everyone.  Out of the 10 best days in winter, this for me is rated high up here. Today I catch the tour highlights in the evening (but only this day!)

Race 5 – The Momentum cape Times Knysna Forest Half Marathon. It’s a fast half marathon, but it takes a long time to get to the start. You need to queue for taxis. But time your approach to the taxi and get in one with lekker loud music already playing. Last year we got a Jamaican Reggae driver and we sang ‘here comes the hotstepper’ all the way to the outskirts of the forest! But it’s not done yet, now you’re doing a walking tour of the forest to the start line in the dark and cold. If you need to, you can take a quick pit stop at Toilet Town, and then head to the start. Take an old jersey or a cheap blank to keep warm, they have collection points for these at the start line, so you can ‘donate’ it as you run past once the waiting is over.

Once you are done, grab a beer at the beer tent and celebrate with the other Big5’ers on a job well done. But don’t celebrate too hard now as there is a FULL ON celebration later on tonight. The Big5 will put on a display equal to our efforts over the last 10 days. We can then celebrate the Big5 winners and club winners at the awards evening.

Best of luck to the individuals and the clubs, may this be the new start of a extraordinary multi-sport challenge that attracts the top multi-sporters in our sport!

By STeve Attwell (Please don’t ask why the capital T in his name…. we just do as we’re told)

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