So I arrived!! Port Elizabeth is about as far away from Vancouver as possible and I haven’t met anyone yet that has travelled further! 13 hours 45 mins to Hong Kong, 4 40 lay over, 12 40 hours to Johannesburg, 1 35 layover, 1 40 to Port Elizabeth, but all in all a successful journey. Generally positive reviews of Cathay Pacific, their planes aren’t as nice as Singapore Airlines or Emirates but: the check in man was very kind and waived the overweight fee for my bike after an unsuccessful repacking attempt :); the planes were comfy; the food was good; excellent choice of films and tv; most importantly me and my bike arrived together and in one piece (even if it looks like my bike box has taken a battering en route); but best of all I got 3 seats to myself for the first flight, basically business class, and no one next to me for the second!
On my first flight, I saw no triathletes, however on the second flight there were people from all over SE Asia. On the third flight it was basically all triathletes apart from the two men I was sitting next to who were rather confused as to what was going on!!
Triathletes are a great bunch and made the journey a lot more entertaining. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and between watches, stash, compression gear, shaved legs (might be missing something as I appear to be the only one without!) and a distinctive body shape are obviously identifiable. There was a lot of exchanging qualification stories and comparing races, along with a general concern about the tight connection in Johannesburg.
The concern about the connection was that in Johannesburg you have to collect your baggage and then re check it. Having successfully negotiated passport control, which is similar to the Caribbean in that no one hurries. The crowd of nervous people waiting for bikes grew. 40 mins before our flight was set to leave no bikes had arrived but eventually they arrived one by one. The process involved one lady manually going and getting each one. We decided this was not a good system given the circumstances and went to help her. Security weren’t impressed but 20-30 people desperate to get a flight are quite persuasive/hard to stop. As everyone’s bikes arrived they ran off check in assuring everyone left that they would ‘make the plane wait’. Once mine finally arrived I found a porter who ran me through the airport and to the front of the queue for check in. We slightly disagreed on the appropriate tip, however he won as I was just grateful to be making my flight! I was then more on my toes through security and managed to escape the people trying to help and shine my shoes.
Once in Port Elizabeth I sorted a shuttle along the waterfront, past registration and transition to my hotel, The Summerstand Hotel. As I flew in I had seen the amazing sand dunes and beautiful blue sea and the drive reinforced the point that the bay of Port Elizabeth is absolutely stunning. I can see why people recommended the location as an excellent one to race. Most importantly though, so far I have seen no evidence of sharks!
The Summerstrand Hotel is located right at the end of the waterfront and from the outside looks fairly basic but is actually very nice and one of the best race hotels I have stayed in. I was however a bit confused by the two geese swimming in the pool.
So just the 39 hours after leaving my house in Vancouver I had finally arrived exhausted and not entirely sure what time it was!
Next up training, registration, preparation and eventually the race…