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  • Writer's picturesarahbonne7

Worst. Birthday. Race. Ever.

All I remember is seeing him switch the girl in front of me and then I was riding straight into her ribs.  The next thing I remember is asking the paramedics if I needed stitches…three times because I hate needles.

I really thought the stars were aligned in my favour at the HoRa Run Bike Run in Boekend last Sunday. It was the perfect temperature, I got a good spot in transition, and even the knee pain I was having that week seemed to have loosened after warming up. The cherry on top was that it was birthday so I was feeling extra ambitions and happy.

Lap 1, 5km run (photo courtesy:

With lessons learned from my last duathlon, I was focused on getting a good position on the first run.  Right off the line one girl (pictured above) charged after the front men and immediately opened a gap of 10 seconds.  When I noticed she was starting to fade at about 3kms, I held the pace steady and then accelerated when I past her so she wasn’t hot on my heels. I struggled in the last 800m but I stayed in front with a 10 second gap and clocked a 5km PB.

Beginning of the bike (photo courtesy:

Transition went smoothly and, since drafting was allowed, I quickly hopped on someone’s wheel.  I wanted to stay out of the crosswind but I had dug deep in the run and my legs were feeling it.  Our twosome grew into about 6 and, although I was struggling on the technical parts of the course, as a group we had settled into a nice tempo. With about 7km’s to go, I was sitting 3rd wheel, waiting for my turn to roll through when it happened.

All of a sudden the guy leading switched the girl in front of me.  Both of them went down and before I knew it I was riding straight for the girl’s ribs.  That’s when I blacked out.

My memory only starts again in the ambulance when I was adamantly asking the paramedic if I need stitches, as if my fear of needles was enough to reboot my brain.  I asked him three times.  Then I persistently asked if it was my fault.  The paramedic reassured me it wasn’t and explained what caused the crash.  It was news to me.  At that time, I had no idea at the time what had happened at all.   As he explained, bits and pieces came back to me but I still don’t remember anything from after hitting the girl to sitting in the ambulance. After being treated by the paramedics a police van drove me back to race headquarters. I was definitely high on adrenaline because I was joking to the police officer that sitting in the back made me feel like I had been arrested.

The huge crack and, ya, that’s blood.

Survival mode kicked in when I entered the registration area and I made a bee-line for my phone, got warm clothes, and something to eat before sitting down with another medic. As she continued to clean my smaller wounds with what felt like razor-blade disinfectant, I opened something to eat.  As I put food in my mouth, I winced from the pain.  My teeth had gone through my bottom lip, my lips were grazed and swollen, and I had roasties above my lips, on my cheeks and my nose.  Even then I still thought I was ok, reassuring people that “it’s just part of racing.”


Day two.

I was finally picked up and we were on our way home but my friend said he had to make a quick stop to say hello to someone.  Finally left alone, I pulled down the sun visor in the car to examine my wounds.  “Oh my God.”  Let me tell you, ignorance is bliss. I looked like the bride of Frankenstein with a lip job gone wrong. It only got worse when I got home and had to scrub everything clean, and worse still when the adrenaline wore off and I began to feel a creeping stiffness all over, paired with a wicked headache thanks to a concussion.

After all the drama was over, the boys where I lived surprised me with cakes (yes, two!) to celebrate my birthday.  Pain killers came in two forms that night:  homemade carrot cake with creme fraiche frosting and homemade apple cake with hand-whipped cream.

It took a thousand little bites and a hour, but the cake was amazing!

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