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by Michelle Carnegie
09 February 2018

Sometimes when one competes in a race, no matter how well you perform (or not), most of us are glad when it’s over. Well, the MiWayLife 226 Brick Challenge recently held at Midmar Dam was not one of those races. Because thinking back to the three incredible days of swimming, cycling and running, all of us that went, actually wish we could have it all over again.
Nope, we most certainly are not super duper athletes who would like to swim, bike and run 226km over three days all over again! We loved the whole experience from the first minute to crossing that finish line. The reason? This race was so much more than just that…it was a race, yes, but it was a weekend of training, of friendships, of encouraging each other and most of all a personal journey for most of us.
The main dude
The race was the brainchild of Glen Gore, former pro triathlete, Race Director, and owner of Triathlon Plus SA Magazine. Glen not only managed to pull off one of the best-organised races, but in between it all also participated in his own race, and came second overall.
Unique format
Glen, who has been in the sport for more than 30 years, has been unofficially planning this unique ‘triathlon” over the last 3 years. His unique race format is brilliant. 3 Days, 3 Disciplines, 1 Overall time. It offered participants a 1.9km swim on Day 1, a 90km bike on Day 2 and a 21.1km run on Day 3. The die-hards could choose to go longer, 3.8km on Day 1, 180km on Day 2 and 42.2km on Day 3. In essence athletes completed a Half Ironman or Full Ironman Distance over three days. The event also made provision for those choosing to only partake in one or two of the disciplines.
What made this race even more unique was that it was done in a friendly, laid back environment; there were no fancy rules, no hard-core approaches and no cut off times. Sure, there were some hard-core triathletes, but there were many average people just like the group of us that undertook this adventure.
Something for everyone
There was a distance or discipline for everyone; this race was not just for triathletes. To give you an idea of the diverse group of people we rocked up with:
-       Eamonn: an experienced Comrades runner who has helped many runners achieve their personal goals. This year Eamonn is undertaking his very first full Ironman in April and he wanted to gauge if he could complete each distance comfortably.
-       Juls and Brian: two die hard, experienced triathletes with a passion for the sport second to none, and by the way also the best supporters you will ever find.
-       Chiovonne, someone who has lost 50kg, started cycling and now wanted to venture into the world of running, tackling her first half marathon.
-       Armando, a racing snake training for the Epic who wanted to see how fast he could cycle and then run.
-       Cheryl & Tarryn, the owners of TransformHERS, who love a challenge and wanted to see what they could achieve on two of the three disciplines.
-       Rob: Tarryn’s husband who wanted to get back into his cycling. 

The venue & registration
The venue was at Midmar Dam, beautifully set up, and with a vibe second to none. Huge kudus go to Carel Bezuidenhoud, the MC who from Day 1 had the crowd going, and in stitches. He never missed a beat and was a huge favourite amongst all participants.
Registration was on the Friday before the swim. And this is where the whole experiences started. We received one of the best goodie bags around, packed with an awesome peak, Versus socks and several other pairs of socks, a swim cap, enough energy bars (we loved the TREK chunks) and other goodies to last at least six months of training - and on top of that we got some cool flip flops and a bottle of wine.
The swim
The swim was a two-lap course of 1.9km. Now honestly, though I’ve been through Ironman, Half IM and other triathlons - swimming has always been my weakest discipline. Add to this the fact that I went into the event a tad undertrained I was stressing about the swim days in advance. So by the time we hit the water I stayed right back. The swim gods smiled down at me because the first lap turned out so much better than what I thought. But then I went in for the second lap, and as I got to around the 3km mark the weather took a turn, literally from the one minute to the next. A raging wind came up and turned the dam into what felt like the ocean. So when a speedboat started picking up all the slower swimmers advising it is not safe, I have to admit I was more than grateful to hop in! Lessons learnt: next time swim in a wetsuit, train a tad more and pray for no wind! The faster swimmers got through the course while the weather was still good and most I spoke to loved the experience, apart from the fact that it was a tad further.
The bike
The bike course was four laps of 45km. Most of us loved the fact that it was laps as you knew exactly what was ahead after the first lap, and of course it is so much easier counting down laps than kays! I absolutely loved the bike, the traffic was with times a bit busy and you had to keep your wits. A great addition to this race was that there were back up scooters and a car around us most of the times, ready to assist if you encountered any bike mechanics.
As I rounded the corner to the finish line after 180km on the bike, I felt like a superstar! A bit broken, but a superstar nonetheless. Our whole crowd was cheering me on as if I was winning. The guys from Erdinger provided ice cold alcohol free beer at the finish line after each day, and what a treat. I’m not a beer drinker but that was the best stuff I’ve had in a while. Loved it. What a day.
The run..and then that finish line
Okay, so when we got to the run on Day 3 I felt totally within my comfort zone, though admittedly a tad tired. The run was four laps of just over 10km, all run within the Midmar Dam resort. The scenery was beautiful, the course undulating, though the hill in the middle of the course felt like Polly Shortts towards the third lap.
A huge thank you to the ladies at the 32GI water table. I don’t know your names, but you are angels!
It was great to see the front and back runners all the time as we all kept on passing each other on the different laps. By the way, the run was an official qualifier for Two Oceans and Comrades.
So, after 42.2km of running I ran through the final finish line, with my sister and brother-in-law waiting cheering me across the line. Another beer got placed into my hand and a ‘medal’. What does the medal look like? Well, it’s a brick. Yip, a full brick with three medals representing the three disciplines placed on it. I own 12 Comrades medals and cherish each one of them, but honestly, this brick is probably one of the coolest ‘medals’ I’ve ever received. I’ve placed it on my desk, with my penholder and a pic of my two little ones on it. A great reminder of a weekend of friendships, family and the sport we all love so much.
Goals smashed
Our crowd all smashed their goals. Chiovonne aced her half marathon smiling all the way, Eamonn breezed through all three disciplines and is so much more confident for IM in April, Brian & Jules got their training in for IM, Rob finished his cycle in a new PB, Armando is even fitter now for the upcoming Epic, Cheryl & Tarryn completed what feels like their one millionth adventure together and me, most importantly I got to spend real time with some awesome mates and family. On top of that my training for this year’s Oceans and Comrades got a boost and I got my confidence back that IM next year could be on the cards…
Thank you Glen Gore for an absolutely superb event from start to finish. MiwayLife 226 Brick Challenge…we meet again in 2019…
It’s a wrap from Glen
“A vision that started at least 3 years ago, finally came to fruition this past weekend with the staging of the 1st of what we hope to be many MiWayLife 226 Brick Challenge Events.
I get nervous when my daughter, wife or I race but when I have to worry about every single one of my athletes who start my event, I really get nervous. Three days of biting nails and next to no sleep (not because I was not tired – I was broken) but because I was poeping in my pants that something would go wrong. I pride myself on my work ethic – it started when I raced as a professional and I now carry this ethic over into any events I am involved in.
Safety at any event is priority no 1. Everything else comes 2nd. When people ask me how the event went? I tell them, even though it sounds rather morbid “no one drowned/ no one got knocked off their bike/ no one suffered a health issue on the run”.
To see all the athletes safely complete either the whole event or the rabbit events they selected and cross the line safely was the icing on the cake.
I know we have been praised but I can see TONS of areas we can make this race better and much safer than it was this past weekend. As a competitor in the event myself (I hate the FOMO feeling just as much as you btw) I got to see the event through the eyes of you guys. This gives me a fantastic insight into what I can do better come 2019. I can definitely improve the swim (the course distance will be spot on next year peeps – I promise, but swimming a little “further” does not harm anyone right?) I can definitely improve the safety on the cycle and then work on some bits and pieces during the run.
I am confident we delivered an event (also judging by the social media response) that was good value for money – a good return on their entry fee investment and above all, that was fun. That is after all why we choose to do this sport – to enjoy ourselves correct?
I would like to thanks Craig Baker and his crew from MiWayLife – these guys are truly the BOMB. I have been in the sport of triathlon for 32 years and have never worked with such great sponsors who are hands-on right down to the last detail. The sport of triathlon would be 4 times better and bigger if we had more of his team in the game. Most sponsors put money into an event and then stand back and watch from the sides – not these guys.
To the rest of my sponsors, we are also very thankful. For many of them this was a “dip the toes in the water and see” approach. I think if they see what social media is saying and for those that were at the event itself, they can confidently say they got a great return on their investment and I am hoping they stick with us as we grow this event in 2019.
There were also a lot of “fence sitters” as well – athletes and coaches that sat this one out. I hope to see them compete in 2019. Social Media is a powerful weapon and they would have seen that perhaps they should have considered coming this year. No worries – they now have some references to contact and I am sure we will see a lot of them in 2019.
This is the IDEAL TRAINING weekend for PE. I know of at least 3 athletes who were not sure they could go under 17 hours on 1 day, who completed the full 226 brick and have now signed on for this year’s PE event in April.
We are so happy our “pioneers” as we like to call them had fun this year and enjoyed themselves and hope to see all of them back in 2019 along with a whole host of their friends and training mates. This event will never be a mass participation event – a niche event that caters for smaller numbers than the bigger guys but gives, we think, a better ROI on all accounts.
Thanks for the support – we hope to see you back in 2019 for an event that we will strive to make bigger and better. - (Glen Gore)

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