Our Freshpak Fitness Festival survival guide…2016

The Freshpak Fitness Festival takes place on the first weekend of October every year and is the official kick off to the Cape Town triathlon season. Every October the town is overtaken by carbon wielding, lycra worshipping triathletes who come to the town for the best after party around, as well as a little swim and triathlon too. The red and black army known as Embark have decided to come up with a race guide of sorts for the weekend with some insiders tips on how to survive the weekend away with the Cape Town tri community. BUT MOST IMPORTANT: This years after party dress up theme is anything ‘FAMOUS’…

Festivities start on the Friday already with registration taking place from 17:00 to 20:30. Many of the triathletes choose to come up on the Friday as the events kick off first thing on Saturday morning with the long open water swims. A quick recap of the events are as follows:

  • 07:30  – 1 Hour before each race starts, Registration in marquee
  •  09:00 Long Swim – 3km and 1.5km (enter on the day)
  • 10:30 Fitkids (1km run/200m swim/1km run)
  • 11h00 Fitkids relay teams (if entries are low – this event will be included with the individuals)
  • 11h45: Run for Fun
  • 12h30: Duathlon and Biathlon (teams and individuals)
  • 13h00: Prize giving for morning events
  • 15h00: Triathlon (teams and individuals)
  • 19h00: Prize giving for afternoon events
  • 19h30 Fancy dress dressing starts




For the purpose of this race guide, we will be focusing specifically on the swim in the morning and the weekends main event – the triathlon. By now  we hope you would have entered the triathlon as it is officially sold out. This is a true testament to the popularity of the event and triathlon in general in Cape Town as this is the earliest the event has ever sold out. www.freshpakfitnessfestival.co.za

So, before we get to the first event. Let’s quickly chat about the night before. As mentioned many Capetonians make the pilgrimage up on Friday afternoon or after work. Please note, there are roadworks when driving up so be prepared to wait a bit so bring a book, magazine or why not just make friends with fellow festival goers in cars around you. On arrival, you can make your way straight to the dam and aim for the big white tent. This is where registration takes place and the expo stands are all set up with awesome items to look at and buy. The night before should be spent preparing for the next day’s event and it not the after party yet so don’t get overexcited and pass out and miss the start of the day. But some light carbo-loading with some beer and red wine is always allowed.



The day has finally arrived and the Fitness Festival has now kicked off. The long swim is first up on the day’s agenda. Technically the swim is non-wetsuit and your results will only be official and you will only be eligible for prizes if you go wetsuit-less. However, the triathlete’s among us often use the swim to get the feel for our wetsuits and use the swim as good triathlon and open water swimming practise. If you would like to do the 3km swim, make sure you are aware that it is 2 loops of 1.5km.

Some top tips for the morning swim:

• If the swim is making you nervous, wait for the gun to go and hang back for a minute or so until the racing snakes go off and you could find a clear path of water to swim in.
• Your heart will feel like its exploding and you will be out of breath very quickly. Just breathe every 1 stroke until your HR calms down and then find a good rhythm to swim in.
• Swim straight out in front of  you to the first buoy and turn to your right once you go around it. From there it is a straight line to the other side of the dam then back again.
• Use each buoy as your goal. Take it buoy by buoy and don’t panic about the full loop.
• The swim takes place in a dam so can be less buoyant and slightly heavier on the body – just keep swimming.
• If you are feeling panicked, don’t – there are lifeguards all around the route and some of the swimmers last year used the lifeguards surfski’s as tan/chill zones.
• On your way back, aim towards the sound of the MC at the finish and go towards his voice and only stand up once your hands touch the mud. This will allow you to avoid face planting into the water in front of the crowd.
• Wait for your friends to come in and enjoy a refreshment on the bank.
• If you are doing the 3km, read the above and repeat once more.

“When I stood at the start line last year I looked out to the buoy in awe and thought cool, I can do this. It was then that my friend Jo pointed to the far bridge and pointed to a tiny yellow speck. Yes, this was the buoy. It turns out I thought the first buoy was in fact the final one. Fail. But I started swimming and made it to the finish so just keep swimming and breathe”

“The dam water tastes quite lovely and isn’t as cold as it looks”


The swim is now over and it’s time to recover before the afternoon triathlon. By recover –we don’t mean head to the bar or crack open the cooler box. That will be the reward for finishing the afternoon’s events. Take some time to grab some food, dry your wetsuit and prepare your kit for the triathlon:



Some top tips for the triathlon:

• Make sure you get down to the bike racking with time to spare as they will lock you out so if you want to bring your car into the campsite be in before 1. If not, you will have to park outside and ride your bike down with bags and bags of kit over your shoulder.
• Wear your helmet on your head and clip the strap when walking into the bike rack area as refs will be checking all is safe and secure.
• Watch out for thorns on the grass and your bikes wheels, you don’t want a puncture before you have even started.
• Lay out your transition items such as race belt, shoes, helmet, socks, gels if needed. One tip is don’t lay this all out on top of the small towel you plan to dry yourself off with. This happened last year and I was forced to whip the towel from under all my items causing an explosion of tri kit all around my area. Not ideal.
• The swim is split into men, women and teams and you will be allocated a special coloured swim cap.
• Once again, take a minute once the gun goes off to breathe and find your space in the water. The great thing about this swim is that you rocked double the distance in the morning so 800m is a pleasure. Be warned thought that sometime the wind can pick up at this time so it can be a bit choppy.
• It is a short run up to transition so use this time to pull down your suit, take your cap and goggles off and soak in the screams of the crowd.
• Have a bottle of water in transition to wash your mouth out as dam water is not the greatest taste you want in your mouth at the start of the bike
• Make sure you bike is in a small gear as the hill of death hits you about 5m off the mount line. You do not want to be going up this hill in a high gear, you will fall over.
• Once over the hill, you cruise through town and out towards the turnaround point. Keep your eye on the road – some parts are rough and punctures are very common. One athlete last year got three in the first km. So pack spares and keep your eye on the road.
• The route is a series of rolling hills and the turnaround comes before you know it. Careful of the tight corner you go around and don’t take it with speed or you will be bush-diving (save this for the after party)
• On your way back into town and into the campsite, there is a nasty little hill so don’t kill yourself. Ride in an easy gear and keep a good rhythm  and once you reach the top, there is a long downhill into transition. The end of the hill is short and sharp so once again, take it slow or you will fall over.
• Change into your running shoes and head out the opposite end of transition but be warned – the start of the run is nasty. One wobbly legs you are confronted with pretty much a sand dune and that gives your weary legs a fright.
• The run is off road on sand and largely gravel  don’t expect smooth road for this run.
• The first 2.5km’s are a gradual uphill but take this time to run slowly and high five the people coming down the other side (unless you are coming first then high five yourself).
• The hill may hurt but realise that you will soon be running downhill and into the finish. DO NOT BE FOOLED by thinking you are home when you get back by transition – you have to do a quick loop around the campsite. Use this time to high five the by now drunk campers and soak in the feeling of being a tri rockstar.
• Once you hit the finish line, smile, wave to the crowd and do a few flick flacks if you can – you are done!
• Look out for the ATC cooler box which is normally stocked with ice cold beers for the members


“It’s not proper etiquette to grab someone’s boerewors off the grill as you past them on the last loop – as they all have skottles going by this point”

“Don’t be a lobster – wear sunscreen”

Now that the swim and the tri are done – the real fun begins with the after party. The after party takes place in the tent where registration happened the night before and the morning of the festival.

Some tips for a top after party and Sunday morning.

• Don’t fade. As tired as you might feel the party is worth it so have some dinner and head down to party and dance with the other triathletes.
• Dress up as this is a Clanwilliam tradition. At last year’s party – Gandolf, Geeks and Go Go Girls were all present!
• The guys will inevitable get naked and slide down the tent pole. Ouch. That’s all.
• Take lots of photos to use as blackmail for the rest of the tri season.
• The next morning, make sure you have some pain meds and some good breakfast to get your spirits up.

“Make sure you bring some green ambulances for the next morning”

“Myprodol for sunday morning”

The weekend is now over so bid farewell to the dam until next season and don’t forget the mantra “what happens in Clan, stays in Clan”

Our next race will Slanghoek Triathlon on 22/23 Oct. See you there!!!



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One Comment

  • Terry
    1 Oct 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Xterra wetsuits are providing prizes for the following
    Short swim first male and female wetsuit wearer out the water win R300
    Long swim first male and female wetsuit wearer out the water win R450
    TRIATHLON : First Xterra male and female XTERRA wetsuit Through the XTERRA Buoyes into T1 wins R500

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