Race Report: Louis Smit – Warrior #6

This event was one of my biggest OCR highlights in my career so far and a major mental shift, a major step up from where I have been. The build-up to Warrior 6 was good for once, I didn’t over train, I was a bit more relaxed about training as I had injury issues throughout my whole 2018 season. I did what I could and really focussed on getting the small things right, especially during the taper faze. I knew it was going to be a fast race with almost no elevation, Jonathan Heart said we would be doing just under 200 meters of climbing for the whole 17km race, I would also be racing the SA champion Thomas van Tonder, speedster Claude Eksteen and also don’t forget about Hlelani Radebe who is a seriously fast athlete as well, plus a bunch of other keen athletes.

If you were there and knew what happened the first quarter of the race you would probably think that I had settled on going out as hard as I could but honestly, that wasn’t the case, I wanted to stick with whoever was leading the race and later make my move. Running on the shoulder of someone is way easier than being chased by everyone but later that worked in my favour so anyway the start was rather fast as Hlelani Radebe pushed to the front and I went with him, but soon he fell off the pace and left myself and Thomas van Tonder in front next to each other. I have been working hard on obstacle intensity and pushed hard on the first obstacle which was duck jump (5 Overs with some wire at the top), I kept the same pace and didn’t look back till obstacle 2 leopard crawl (Barbed wire), it was here that I saw I already had made a small gap on the field and obviously also decided to capitalize on that by putting in a hard surge.

All of a sudden I had made a substantial gap now and as I hit unchained monkey I would listen to hear someone hit the bell behind me, the carries also started to follow the one after the other, at log buster (Double log carry), I could see where my competition was again and realized they weren’t that far behind also it was here where the advantage of leading came in, usually when you start to fatigue and you are behind its easy for the mind to relax and give in to the pain but strangely enough when I was leading my mind was stronger and self-talk was something like “I know it burns but they might be gaining, keep going”, “Don’t *!#&@ relax, come on”(Excuse the language, just being real), “focus on the carries”, “Hips up, arms through”, so this went on for most of the race.

As the race went on and the carries looped around I saw that Claude Eksteen had dropped Thomas van Tonder and in my mind, it felt he was coming for me. Most of the running also was done now and I entered the obstacle gauntlet which included, chain reactor, pole-shimmy, Iron rig, balls and pipes, truck and trailer and last but not least breaking point all within 100 meters of each other. I was so focused here on reaching breaking point early that I didn’t rest much on anything, I also thought my lead would be big but Claude Eksteen closed on me really fast and hats off to him, his obstacle proficiency is on another level. During the tyre drag I thought I could take a breather halfway but as I looked up the legend Claude Eksteen was just about to start his tyre drag and I lifted myself just a little to get this drag done.

Now the beast known as breaking point stood between me and maintaining this gap and possibly a first-ever warrior win. I must admit I was really fatigued and took a few seconds to compose myself, I got through the first part and got to the net, my mind now wanted to rest as I had a habit of resting at these big obstacles, but I convinced myself to get to the final resting point and rather take a rest there. This was definitely a great decision as I now had a strategic advantage on whoever was closing the gap. I decided that I would rest my grip until someone went underneath the net, and as Claude got to the net I went for it, I rung that bell and off I went, I now knew there was only about 3 kilometres left and all the toughest obstacles were behind me.

I started to cramp up but could luckily keep myself relaxed enough to get through the Mbombela stadium without losing much time to the chasing Claude and Thomas. I did the rookie rig and ran hard, there was a rope traverse in some really cold water and I could hear who I think was Hennie Scheepers “jys n masjien, push, push!”. Did the mamba slide and heard Max Cluer in the background already celebrating that I was the 7th ever Warrior race winner and now part of an elite few, I could really just soak up the moment and enjoy it. As I crossed the line I knew I had done it and I was so happy and relieved, Claude Eksteen crossed the line 45sec later in 2nd and Thomas van Tonder could hold off teammate Michael Joubert for 3rd.

So happy with this result and now I know I am capable to be one of the best, this is also a really big confidence booster for me leading up to world champs in October. I just want to thank everyone for their support and help, family, friends, and also sponsors without any of you this would never have been a reality only a dream…