For the next few weeks the plan is to feature individuals or clubs that have inspired me along my journey so far. I’ve chosen them because I admire their tenacity, their belief that if one works hard enough, there’s nothing that’s impossible. In turn I hope that YOU too will be inspired by at least one .. if not all of them. They are from different backgrounds, but their uniqueness unites them as they have one thing in common .. to never give up!
“…lose a minute in transition, than be uncomfortable for nearly four hours…”
Luvuyo Bangazi @luvuyobangazi
Luvuyo is an experienced marketer, business owner and board member. When he isn’t making an honest living he is spending time with his family, wife and two children and in between all this he still finds time to train and compete in the various Ironman series mostly in South Africa, or competing in Cycle or Run events such as the Coronation Double Century (202km) in 2013. Endurance races clearly being the preference.
Be inspired ….
EKL is me 🙂
LB is an endurance athlete dad of two, a husband and marketer
EKL – Why did you decide to become a triathlete ?
LB – It’s funny how that came about. Pre 2012 I had never even heard of triathlon. I was so big, at 120kg, desperate to latch on to anything. One of my colleagues at Boomtown was putting together teams for 2012 Corporate Triathlon Challenge, it takes place a day before Ironman SA, and I stupidly agreed to cycle. So off I went and borrowed a bike two weeks before the event. Then a teammate who was based at the Jozi office pulled out last minute, he was supposed to run. So I said why not! Long story short, It was a long day of cycling and running … for me .. and that’s how I got into it. The very next year, 2013 I volunteered at IMSA, was placed at Bike check in/out. There the bug really bit me.
EKL – How long have you been competing?
LB – Not long. I raced my first Duathlon event on the 18 of August 2013. I raced my first Triathlon event ever at Ironman 70.3 East London in a time of 7hr23min, a long day. In hindsight I probably should have done a few Sprint or Olympic distance Triathlons leading up to it. Two Half Ironman, Two Full distance Ironman events and a fourth placed team ( I did the swim and Bike) in East London 2015, takes the tally to 5 Iron events and a few local races dotted in between. Short answer, 2 years.
EKL – As a triathlete what is your ultimate goal?
LB – I’ve become obsessed with tackling areas in my sport that I felt have been challenges, the swim, transition and the cycle. So my goal is to see incremental improvements in those areas, in the end it all adds up to really good finish times. I’ve taken off huge chunks of time in these two years. My first Half Ironman 70.3 took me 7hrs23 and my most recent Half Ironman Durban lasted 5hrs31. My first Full Ironman took me 14hr15 and my most recent one I took 12hr38. I’m happy with that! Knowing I can push myself even further is my motivation to keep going at it.
EKL – How do you prepare for a triathlon from a training and nutrition point of view?
LB – I’m lucky enough to be in the company of one of SA’s great exports in Triathlon, Raynard Tissink and his swim coach wife, Natallie Tissink. They tailor make my training according to my goals, ability, time and expectations. Their 3T Coaching Academy and Team Tissink squad has been really instrumental in how I prepare and perform. The support is amazing, from individual attention, squad sessions, training camps and prerace preparation. Nutrition is very important to Ray hence some sessions will focus on race pace and nutrition practise. We’ve met every goal we’ve set together. My two cents worth is simple; you can wing it and hope for the best, but better still I say, get the best advice available for your best results possible.
EKL – Of the three disciplines, swimming, cycling and running, which one do you enjoy the most?
LB – I enjoy running the most. I think it’s because of the contact we have with people along the course. Port Elizabeth Ironman South Africa being a home race for me, means I see familiar faces everywhere. I love that 🙂 I also enjoy the Bike, my baby Specialized Shiv has been good to me. I feel like I’m getting quicker and better technically on the bike. The swim was always going to be tough but I’ve grown to like it, I’m more comfortable now. It’s the shortest leg of the day so I don’t over think it. I’ve seen huge improvements there too, from 59min at Half Ironman 70.3 in 2014 to a 46min swim in 2015, and in Durban reduced it further to 43min. My first Full Ironman swim took me 1hr50, in 2015 I managed to reduce that time 1hr33. The lap times in the pool are improving, slowly I will get there… I’m patient. I’ve given myself one more year to break the 40min barrier in the Half Ironman swim and 1hr25min for the Full Ironman.
EKL – Which triathlete inspires you and why?
LB – For the last year and a bit, I’ve admired Craig Alexader. I think he is a true professional and racer. I even bought the same bike as his and run in similar Newtons shoes he does! Creepy.. I know 🙂 Recently I’ve really been drawn into Fredi Van Leerde, I think his military background infuses a great deal of discipline and commitment. I think both athletes have one thing in common, discipline and professional outlook. Locally my hero is no doubt my coach, Ray Tissink, he too is a strict disciplinarian. If he says run an 8km time trial, then 7.9km is not good enough.
EKL – I’ve heard that the transition zone in a triathlon can be as overwhelming as your first open water swim. How would you advice a novice to approach this crucial element of a triathlon?
LB – My first transition took a record breaking 13min! Why, because I did not do any Triathlons before my first Half Ironman 70.3 and I should have. I think you refine your approach over a few races and you just get better by tweaking little things. It’s also important to know that you’re racing your own race, if you feel you need to catch your breath, then let them go, you’ll pass them on the course somewhere. Try not to get yourself get caught up in other people’s race. The few minutes you lose at transition are quickly made up. So my advice is, race the short ones and get a feel of it. Saturdays must be your dedicated brick session after any ride longer than 3hrs, get the legs used to running tired and do at least 30 to 45min with the first 10min being hard. This format has helped me a great deal. The other thing to do is walk the transition area on bike check in. You’ll notice a small details like uneven paving, your rack position, how long it takes to get there etc. Then do your best to relax and enjoy yourself. You are one of the 1% of individuals in the whole world privileged enough to do this.
EKL – Socks or no socks? Why?
LB – I’m on the fence on this one. Since running with Newtons, I easily do the Half Ironman without socks. The shoe material breaths nicely and your feet dry up quicker. Ironman South Africa is a long day, you might as well take a minute, put your socks and be comfortable. Rather lose a minute in transition, than be uncomfortable for nearly four hours or more.
EKL – As a sport do you believe that triathlon is growing in popularity in South Africa?
LB – I think coming off a low base, the sport is growing in leaps and bounds. The third edition to the Ironman race calendar, Durban Half Ironman 70.3 and the upgraded status of the PE race to a Championship, are both great news. I still think a lot can be done to introduce the sport in townships etc. Yes it is an expensive sport but remember the black middle class is spending that money on clothes, cars, whisky etc. Simply promote an alternative and start from a young age, at schools.