Jailbreak used to be at the Brandvlei Prison, I assume that is how it gained its name. This year it moved a new venue to Slanghoek which is a proven race venue used for other events. An area that I know is beautiful and can get super hot and very windy. Luckily, on the day, it was relatively moderate with only a slight wind, perfect conditions.
The Maximum Security event seemed to suit me quite well. The short and long distance races had the same 1.3 kilometer swim, two laps of the dam with a quick run and jump off the jetty in between. For me, as a non-swimmer, this was brilliant. The bike leg was 84 kilometers, with no drafting and time trial bikes allowed. I managed to get a demo SwiftCarbon Drone time trial bike. The last leg was an 18 kilometer run, the first few kilometers off-road and then an out and back stretch on the tar.
My race strategy was always to suck at the swim, smash the bike course (testing out the time trial bike), then teach myself how to endure physically and mentally on the long and hot run with hurting legs.
I knew I was on target during the swim when the fellow competitors around me in the water were doing breaststroke. It did not phase me. I was slow and steady and completed the longest open water swim I had ever done in just under 36 minutes. I enjoyed the swim as the dam is relatively small, so you are never far from shore. I would be quite intimidated trying to do it out at sea. Also climbing out and diving in again for the second round is fun and breaks it up mentally. To put things in perspective, Evert Scheltinga, who won the event, did the swim in 20: 28.
The base for the event and transition is at the Breeland Cellar, which was a great location, and everything we needed was there including enough shade to recover under after the race. I also got a free bottle of their wine which I still have to review.
Starting the bike ride so far back in the field meant I felt like a superhero flying past other riders as I moved up in the field. I don't know how it compares to other triathlons but it seemed like a simple loop with only one real climb and no unnecessary dangers. It allows you to get down into the aero position and just put down power. I did not have to brake once. I did notice though that triathletes, in general, are not very good around corners. I would sit up, drop the outside pedal and cruise around a corner often overtaking someone who almost came to a complete stop. It must be said that the Swift Drone handled well and I was pretty confident on the bike. After about 90 minutes of power, the position on the bike started to hurt. I had only done one easy ride on the Drone pre-race without a taxing swim beforehand. I forced myself to stay down in the aero position and finished the 84 kilometer route in 2:29:31. That is an average speed of 33,6 km/h. I suspect the long climb, which was repeated on the second loop, must have dented my average speed. That Dutch pro Evert did the ride in 2 hours.
Once off the bike, I needed to pee. Triathlons are so admin intensive, you need to prepare so many things to make sure that the transition is smooth. Anyway, heading out on the run straight into the dirt roads through the vineyards gave me ample suitable spots to relieve myself. Getting that job done while wearing a tri-suit is another thing that takes practice. So much to learn.
On the first part of the run, I had some company as the shorter distance athletes were also hitting the course. After their turnaround point though it became pretty lonely, hot, and very painful. It becomes a mental game at this point, which is a challenge I enjoy. Waterpoints on the bike I ignored completely as I had two bottles on my bike. On the run though they are key points, moments that you long for. The water points here were well-spaced I thought and offered coke and water, fine for me. I stopped at most of them for a brief drink.
I've always prided myself on my endurance but toward the end of the run I was definitely starting to slow down a bit. I managed to finish the run in 1:39:50, making my entire day out a 4:45 minute affair. It was good enough for 22nd overall, which impressed Paul Valstar the commentator (he knows me from working on events).
I'm not a part of the triathlon community, who seem to all know each other and be at all the races, but I thoroughly enjoyed pushing my boundaries and doing the Jailbreak Maximum Escape. For me, it was a way to test myself to see how I would adapt to long-course racing, as I'd like to do Ironman in the future. As a Capetonian, it was a far cheaper way to race than trying to enter a 70.3. At the end of the day, it was a flipping enjoyable race, one that I would honestly recommend, even to people who don't classify themselves as triathletes.