#StepOutChallenge: I tri-ed, I conquered

This past weekend Sox Footwear staff member Andries van Zyl completed his first full Ironman distance in Port Elizabeth as part of his #StepOutChallenge for 2022.

In 2021 I took on the 70.3 in Durban after being stuck in covid lockdown for one year unable to go outside and work in those extra miles. After completing the event in June, I decided to chase my dream and enter the full distance Ironman in Port Elizabeth, consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run.

I downloaded a free training plan and started my training in September 2021. At this stage, I have been training consistently after doing the 70.3 and was confident I would be able to finish the race, even if I crawled over that finish line.

Swimming has always been my go-to sport and I really enjoyed the training sessions. I used to cycle to work every day, which built my confidence on the bike. Joined the Velo group in Pretoria, which really pushes you to go the distance and at a hefty pace. Running was my biggest focus, working in those long distances over the weekends and shorter bursts during the week. Balancing all three sports at once felt tricky at times, but early mornings and late afternoon training sessions pulled me through.

Race day. Sunday, 03 April 2022, we woke up to what felt like hurricane Port Elizabeth. The rain was pouring down, gushing winds and low temperatures. As we rolled into the swim start, the announcement came through, that the swim was cancelled. Of course, this was the one I most looked forward to, but we got ready for a heck of a bike course ahead.

As we started the rain kept getting worse by the minute, by this stage it was so cold outside, and I felt like it was a swim on the bike. For the first part of the route, we had a bit of tailwind, but as we turned on the 90km loop, the wind was coming straight ahead, and you could just feel your pace dropping. I finished the 180km bike ride with a time of 6:10:33.

By 14h00 the rain cleared as I got off the bike, and the sun came out in its full glory! From cold and shivering to scorching hot on the running course. As I went through the transition, I’m so glad I had a pair of fresh dry Sox Footwear conveniently packaged in a bag. This truly made the biggest difference to my run and would recommend this to any triathlete. PACK EXTRA SOX!

Made sure I had enough nutrition to pull me through for the marathon ahead and stayed hydrated the entire time. I finished the 42.2km run with a time of 4:24:15.

This was by far the toughest challenge I’ve ever completed, and hearing my name called on that red carpet Andries van Zyl, you are an IRONMAN, made me feel like anything is possible and you can conquer anything you put your mind to.
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