And it’s another sporting venture which follows on from my posts on the Cycle to Paris and the Medoc Marathon. Again, in true tradition it has the fine balanced ‘notes’ of sport and party, something which I personally think, makes for the ideal weekend.
I stretch out to cancel the all-too familiar sound of my alarm. This time however, I am not in London waking up for the morning battle with the rest of the city; instead I am in Cape Maclear Malawi; by the lake; in a tent. It’s 5am, the sun has risen and today we are doing a triathlon…
…and not just any triathlon but Cape Maclear’s first ever triathlon event.
If the sounds of a triathlon doesn’t float your boat – don’t stop reading; how about an island swim, or a local style dug-out canoe race; there’s also an action packed volley ball tournament to test your jumping and diving skills. If this still sounds like a bit too much hard work then, simply cheer on the red faced, overheating competitors and enjoy a bit of chill time on the beach and at the bar.
It is a full weekend of entertainment from pre-party grooves on the Friday night, action packed-Saturday, right through to a more chilled vibe on the Sunday (there is also another 10km run on the Sunday AM however this year it didn’t quite happen after a particularly jolly Saturday night party which went on until sunrise leaving no one to actually start the race!)
So what do you need to know?
Cost (as of 2015)
- Entry; KW10,000which is about £12 (Options to enter as an individual and conquer all 3 stages or share the efforts with a team -Kw3,000pp)
- Park fees; 5 dollars
- Bike Hire; 20-25 dollars (on the day we actually paid Kw7,000 which is less than the advertised price.
- The event is run from Golden Sands National Park – You register at the bar area and all the areas are in close proximity to once another.
- Swimming in the freshwater of the lake is lovely and no wetsuits are required. The cycle is on an undulating road with some hills – the main challenge in my view was the weight of the bikes (not like the light road bikes at home). The run takes you on a route part track part road through Chembe Village, past baboons, goats and some impressive Baobab trees.
- It did get hot even though we started at around 7am and even by the run at about 8am the power of the sun was fairly intense!
What about the gear…
- So the chances are if you’re on your travels, holidays or even based in one of the city’s then you won’t have your bike with you. No fear you can hire bikes online advertised through the event site for about 25 dollars. As long as you aren’t expecting a state-of-the-art piece of machinery then you’ll be happy with your biking friend. Brakes and gears aren’t necessarily 100% in tact so a little test run pre race wouldn’t go a-miss just so you know which break to stretch for, for the emergency stop. Helmets are not provided but are not required – no such penalties or disqualifications.
- This is no fashion parade peeps. Anything goes – grab whatever sporty-ish-looking kit that you have in the cupboard and don’t worry that you’re more cotton than lycra.
- Firstly and most important it’s a great event for all ages and abilities, with a fun, relaxed vibe. If you have too much lycra and too much of the gear then you’re better off heading to take part in another triathlon circuit.
- Good news! The event will be continuing for at least 3 years as TNM has increased its sponsorship of the event – who knows in 10 years time this may be THE sporting event in every athlete’s calendar.
- Once you’ve done your sporting event, stay around to rehydrate at the bar for a bit and if you head off for a quick power nap then make sure you head-back to watch the canoeing race or island swim and the volleyball tournament – some very impressive skills on show.
Where to stay
- Get yourself booked into one of the lodges close by well in advance and combine it with a chilled ‘beach’ vibe – The Funky Cichlid is just a 20-minute walk away and an ideal place to stay. Fun bar, basic accommodation including camping options.
Other places to look into:
- Annie’s Lodge – a bit more expensive than The Funky Cichlid but next door and has a pool.
- Thumbi View Lodge – affordable dorms and private rooms, on site scuba facilities too. Again just down the beach from The Funky Cichlid and a 25 min walk away from the event.
- If you want a more luxurious stay then look into Danforth Yachting – again conveniently placed 15-20 minutes away from the Triathlon. High standard of rooms with full board dining. Also large range of watersports offered.
Planning your trip
- You may prefer to do this fully independently if you’re on a few weeks adventure and road-tripping around. Alternatively there are a number of tours that are organised to incorporate the Triathlon and the Lake of Stars Festival the following weekend. If you fancy an epic 2-3 week trip getting involved with both of these then get in touch with Malawian Style for adventure itineraries and tour options.
Any other questions then please ask away! Maybe see you next year…