Presenting: 1st annual TriKa swimmeet

10 12 2009

Blazing a triathlon trail: Dan Martin

24 11 2009

Some people think outside the box. TEDxBrussels promised to burn the box but forgot to light it. Dan Martin intends to swim, cycle and run the box around the world. Seriously.

At high tide on May 8th 2010 I’ll dive in to the Hudson River from Battery Park in New York. I’ll swim down stream past the Statue of Liberty and across the Atlantic to Brest in France. I’ll be swimming eight hours a day, no wetsuit, no shark cage. When I touch the boat at night we will GPS mark the spot I finish and start from there the next day.

From Brest I’ll cycle east through Europe and across Russia. Pedalling through Siberia in winter and then crossing the Bering Straits when they’re (partially) frozen from Uelen to Cape Wales. The Bering Strait will be by far the most dangerous and challenging part of the trip. I’ll essentially be manhauling me and a floating sled across 50miles of slush ice and strong currents mainly in the dark.

From Cape Wales in Alaska I’ll run to New York finishing with a New York Marathon in November 2011.

What could possibly go wrong?

Dan, I wish you the best and will try to support you any way I can.

Belgians are of two physical types

29 08 2009

Having tossed me this personal-narrative bone, van Lierde strips down to his swimsuit. The Belgians, it has been said, are of two distinct physical types: the ample, rosy burghers famously depicted by Rubens, and the wraithlike subjects of van Gogh. Stomping around in rubber boots, complacently hosing down the pool deck, Damien van Houck appears pure Rubens. Lean and rope-muscled, his hair a severe black skullcap, van Lierde seems van Gogh to the core.

John Brant profiles Luc Van Lierde in Outside Magazine, November 1997.

A boy amongst men: Alistair Brownlee

15 08 2009

I have just witnessed the coming of age of Alistair Brownlee at the London ITU Olympic distance triathlon. He won the race in a blistering 1:41:50, his fourth consecutive ITU win. Phenomenal. How he manages to squeeze out that kind of power from his 11-year-old physique is beyond me.

A few of my favorite things in Melbourne

21 07 2009

Fitzroy and Collingwood are two suburbs in Melbourne, Australia. If you tire of the hustle & bustle of CBD, head on over to these neighborhoods for your fill of people watching, fine dining, designer shopping, street art, art galleries and wine bars. All very open-minded and soulful.

Brunswick Street is art with a capital A.

Brunswick Street Art

Throwback Flandrien jersey @ BSC

Dr Follicles barber shop on Gertrude Street

Fine dining @ Cavallero on Smith Street

Breakfast (Bircher muesli!) @ Marios – an institution in Melbourne

Wine tasting @ St Jude’s Cellars

Kelly Thompson exhibit @ Gorker Art gallery

Fitzroy swimming pool – a triathlete’s dream: a 10 lane, outdoor heated 50m pool, with inside bike racks, sauna and steam room. Open year round. Sigh.

Race report: 2009 Brasschaat ITU LD

30 06 2009

I made my long distance debut this weekend at the 2009 Brasschaat ITU LD event. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so ecstatic, exhausted and, above all, sore. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

* Overall: triathlon is the single most rewarding sport in the world: 3 basic discplines, 1 huge adrenaline rush, more than 8000 calories burned, 4 cramps suffered, 1 clenched fist when crossing the finish line. A priceless experience.

* Rookie mistake made during the bike leg: not enough food intake. Capital error. During the first run loop, I couldn’t remember my own name. Next time, I’m packing food like this athlete:


* Random observations: energy gels taste like feet but they do help. So does good ol’ Coca Cola. My favorite brand of race nutrition = Squeezy energy fruit gums. Eating bananas on the bike at full speed is not a pretty sight. Memo to self: never race in white Skinfit tri pants.

* The women’s overall winner, Sofie Goos,  gave me a serious cold by literally flying by me during the run. Impressive race, Sofie.


* Pictured below is Koen Hoeyberghs seconds after crossing the finishing line. At age 43, Koen is triathlon nobility in Belgium. He placed 5th overall. In the picture he looks like he went for a stroll. I bow humbly.


* By way of comparison, this is how I looked during the run. Notice any difference?


* For the record, here are my splits:

swim: 2700m in 0:42:27 (91st AG, 170th overall)
bike: 80km in 2:08:32 (73rd AG, 128th overall)
run: 20km in 1:48:10 (144th AG, 282nd overall)

Total: 4:41:51 (114th AG (192 finishers), 197th overall (417 finishers))
Complete results available here (.pdf)

* Conclusion: this was the best athletic experience I have ever had. Perfect setting and race organization, great value for money, lovely weather and atmosphere. Well-refereed too. I’d do this again in heartbeat.

* Thank you: Wendy & Jerre, Luc & Annick, Jim De Sitter, Marc Pollet, the race organizers and the countless aid station volunteers. I never meant to dose you.

Stress relief: open water swimming

23 06 2009

A Gilles Peterson DJ set. The breeze in the West Indies. Watching my children. These a few of my favorite things. So is open water swimming in Hazewinkel‘s 2000m rowing course. Instant relaxation. Stroke after stroke. Pure bliss. Hazewinkel would be the ideal location to organize a long distance triathlon.

Picture by Koen Handekyn

2009 ITU Brasschaat Long Distance

15 06 2009

I’m looking forward to my first long distance triathlon: a 2700m swim, 80k bike and 20k foot race in Brasschaat. This race is a Flemish classic but will disappear from the race calendar as the organizers have chosen to go to the Olympic distance format from 2010 onwards.

Some form of back-pack will be required

1 06 2009

May has been and June promises to be an irregular training month for me. I may start in the Olympic distance race in Bruges, but racing the half distance in Brasschaat with little to no training seems pointless. And so, with one eye on my PhD and the other my race calendar, I came across an unusual race.

In an interview with Slowtwitch, ITU WCS Madrid winner Alistair Brownlee mentioned the Helvellyn Triathlon. This race is set in scenic Cumbria, on Sunday September 6th 2009 and the course offers a challenging

1 mile swim in Ullswater – England’s most beautiful lake
38 miles cycle – including the Kirkstone Pass (pictured)
9 miles run up Helvellyn – 3118 feet (England’s 3rd highest peak)

I am new to fell running and don’t quite know what to make of this rule (a whistle?):

The weather on the fells even in mid summer can be poor and the tops could well be in cloud. You will not be allowed out of the bike/run transition without full body cover weather proof clothing, map of the route, compass, whistle and suitable footwear for a fell run. Some form of back-pack will be required.

Life is a To Walk Again charity

28 05 2009

On Saturday, May 30th, TriKa is organizing a swim marathon for charity. Care to chip in a few laps? Sponsor us as we try to break our personal records? I’m gunning for 300 laps. That’s 7500m. A chlorine smell for days. All for a good cause. Marc Herremans’ foundation, To Walk Again. He da man.