Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 145, Sept/Oct 2021 | Page 57

With five months to learn to swim and then build the strength and confidence to tackle the 1.5km swim of the 5150 event , which also features 40k ride and 10km run legs , Mindlo says things were going steadily well , but as the 21 August race date got closer , he began to realise things were getting real , as he puts it . “ I knew I needed to up the tempo , as I had never swum in open water before , so I was nervous as hell when I went into the water for the first time for training . Then I remembered a friend had said that if I have a wetsuit on , I won ’ t sink , I can just roll over onto my back , catch a breath , and then swim to shore if necessary . I had just never been in that environment before , so I was really nervous , but you cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore .”
Even with some open water training now behind him , Mindlo knew he would be taking quite a plunge in tackling such a long open water swim , but as he says , there is a first time for everything … “ I had no clue what to expect on race day , but at least I made the effort to look the part . I literally had my whole wardrobe in my bag , as I didn ’ t want to take any chances and came prepared for anything . In the end , it all went fine , and for some strange reason , when I finished the swim leg , I knew that the race was in the bag ,” he says .
By the time I was on the second loop of the bike , my legs were itching to run , and all I could do was smile when I heard my name on the red carpet at the finish as I finished in just over four hours . That was one for the history books … the day I became a triathlete … and marked the beginning of a new chapter in my life . Lots of lessons were learnt along the way , and I couldn ’ t have done it without the support of the amazing people around me , as the past few months had been taxing , but happiness lies in the joy of achievement .”
Buoyed by his 5150 success , Mindlo decided he felt ready to go even longer , and within days he signed up for the Durban Ultra Tri on 3 October . This event would require him to do an even longer 1.9km swim , this time in the sea , followed by 90km ride and 21km run legs , in this Half Ironman distance event . He duly did this event shortly after being interviewed for this article , and finished in 7:07:37 , well within the 8:05 cut-off . When asked his thoughts on his remarkable six-month journey from non-swimmer to ultra-triathlete , Mindlo is
Mindlo tackled his first duathlon in March at the Tinman event in Durban effusive in his excitement about his new sport , but also readily admits that he had moments of doubt , too . “ It has been an amazing experience . At first , I found the running was easy , and while the bike part was more challenging , I could latch onto groups of friends for group rides , but the swimming part … At first , all I could think about was let me get out of the water ! But I trusted the process and I have enjoyed the journey ,” he says .
“ The real positive I have taken out of this experience is that if a person wants to branch into multisport , it can be done , and I have told many running friends that they can also do it . Many multisport events are now accommodating the runners , like the Tinman Series , which never had the duathlon option before . They said it would be a tester initially , not part of the series , but the uptake was so big that they have made it part of the series . So , I ’ m now seeing more and more runners getting into multisport , and I have been telling my running friends that there is hope , that even though road running events are not happening yet , we can do multisport events instead .”
Mindlo took up running in 2014 after a bit of a health scare , as he describes it . “ I had some form of gastro problem , and had to go to hospital frequently . I was overweight back then , and the more I went for treatment , the more they told me that I needed to become more active and drop some weight . The local parkrun was right opposite where I lived , so one Saturday morning I signed up and ran my first 5km , and then I slept the rest of the day ! But I kept going to parkruns , and today I have done more than 100 , and I ’ m proud of my 100-run
Mindlo is a popular figure in running circles
“ My first ultra was the Om Die Dam 50km in 2015 , and I can still remember my time , 6:57 , just before the seven-hour cutoff . The funny part was that I looked at my watch around midday , after running for six hours , and realised I only had an hour left before cut-off . “
T-shirt . If not for lockdown , I would probably have my 250-run T-shirt now , too .”
Having become a parkrun regular , Mindlo began signing up for local races , and say he simply never looked back . “ I ran 10km races , then 21s , then marathons , and then ultras . My first marathon was around October or November 2014 , the Gauteng Marathon from Krugersdorp to Joburg Stadium , and I was part of the group that finished right at the back . My time was 6:04:24 , but all that I knew at the time was that I was not last … and the timing people were still there at the finish when I came in !”
“ My first ultra was the Om Die Dam 50km in 2015 , and I can still remember my time , 6:57 , just before the seven-hour cut-off . The funny part was that I looked at my watch around midday , after running for six hours , and realised I only had an hour left before cut-off . That ’ s when I told myself , I didn ’ t get up early and drive all the way from Pretoria to Harties , just to miss the cut-off and not earn a medal , so I had to pick up my pace ! I made it , and I ’ ve now done the race every year from 2015 to 2020 .”