Captain Noeline ‘n Carl Luitingh finally get that elusive Kona slot

Tri 2 Aspire has had a change of watch over the last 12 months, and for the newer members of the team I would like to take the opportunity to give a special tribute to one of our oldest team players, in both length of service and maturity… and let’s not forget, with age comes experience, and Captain Carl is certainly not short in experience in endurance racing.

Capt. has finally qualified for Kona securing that illusive Ironman World Championship slot which he’s been chasing for the last 4 years, he and his biggest supporter and other half, Noeline will be making the long distance triathlete’s pilgrimage to the Big Island – Kona, Hawaii πŸ™‚

When I first joined T2A in 2009 there was only one team member who had been to Kona, and that was the wonderful Captain Kona otherwise known as ‘Roy Dixon’ the pioneer of the Vibram five finger in Dubai and as enthusiastic about life and triathlon as the next man, so when he got a lottery slot for Kona he took it, and has still got the race numbers tattooed in sunburn on his arm to prove it πŸ™‚ Since then there has been 4 other team members who have qualified in their own right under CP… Edward Hawkins and Aja Stevens both QF at IM Korea in 2011, Simon Marshall and Neil Flanagan QF’d at IM Philippines 70.3 also in 2011 with Simon Marshall qualifying for a second time in IM Japan 70.3 in 2012. So its evident that Coach Jason Metters has the required experience from his own 17 years of professional racing and ‘old school’ coaching skills that get his athletes to achieve the standard required to qualify… proof with the proven success rate, with notably dedicated triathletes who believe in their coach, follow the plan to the letter and train hard with consistency and race their hearts out come race day.

So is Captain Carl any different? He trains hard and follows the plan to the letter, something he is very proud to admit. It’s taken him, what some may consider a long time to qualify, and you would think qualification in the more mature age groups would be less competitive, but alas, it would appear the competition gets stiffer and the competitors get harder, as hard as our very own Captain Carl.

Captain Carl joined T2A at the back end of the summer of 2009. He had already done IM NZ in 2004, and I cannot quite believe his result of 13:46hrs! The first IM Captain completed under Coach Metters was Bussleton in 2009 and he significantly improved his performance finishing in 11:12hrs 5th in AG55-59. It is only a hunch, but I suspect it was at this point that Coach planted the Kona seed in Captain’s head… So Captain trained for another year and returned to Bussleton in 2010 in super form and produced an awesome 10:25hr performance – which, a surprise to all failed to make the grade and he came 4th in AG55-59, being pipped to 3rd (10:23hrs) and some freak results for 1st and 2nd place. Hmm, I shall let you do your own research on those results… and please do, it really is interesting stuff and you can draw your own conclusions.

So with the obvious disappointment after all that hard work training Captain wasted no time to select his next race IM South Africa in April 2011. This was an interesting race, with the experience of Busso and another 4 months training bringing every confidence in what is an undoubted tough field, but Captain was on fire. Or so we thought? The race went like this…. swim 1:06hr 1st AG55-59, bike 5:19 1st and course record AG 55-59, run 4:36hrs 5th AG 55-59 with 11.09hrs. Captain came off the bike with a massive lead, the win was in the bag, but Capt. pushed too hard, cramped on the run and lost his lead finishing in 5th. Major disappointment all round.

Not one to give up, Captain decided to continue his quest and go to IM South Korea in July 2011. A great trip (for some). What started out to be a great day with a 1:02hr swim and 5:37hr bike on a hilly course, Captain paid dearly on the run. The run was a tough 2 x 21km either up or downhill, I know this as I did it and I witnessed what was a heartbreaking turn of events after training with the man. Carl spent 6:13hrs on that run course. He finished in 13:05hrs. It took some time for Captain to get over that… but, and more importantly the old dog did!

Coach put the Captain out to pasture to get a hernia op, recuperate and get a new hunger for IM, at which point he got a different thirst, quenched by beer πŸ™‚ Sometimes fun is required, so Captain had a holiday without the bike after 2 years of hard consistent ironman training, Captain style.

So on 25th March 2012 Captain Carl raced again.. After 6 months of light training Captain raced IM Melbourne and beat the cramping demons that haunted him in South Africa and Korea. He swam 1:04hr, biked 5:18 and ran 4:07 regaining his form with 10:40hrs placing 8th in AG 55-59. Incidentally our friend Greg Bradley (a name those who watched Captain’s next race won’t forget in a hurry) placed 6th (10:26hrs).

Now for the Captain’s A-Race, IM Port MacQuarrie on 5th May 2013, he trained hard but from past experience listened to both his coach and his body and backed it off when needed. The result.. 11:03hrs 1st AG60-64, 2nd Greg Bradley (11:13). It was an exciting race to watch but our Captain out ran Greg, there was a minute in it for the first half of the marathon but our Capt. drew on his strength of character and all his experience and went on to put 10mins into Greg. Just brilliant πŸ™‚

So for all those aspiring triathletes out there, if you need advice on triathlon or life in general, just ‘ask Captain’ but, remember it must be over a coffee πŸ™‚