Blog post

Base Training Camp – Jeffreys Bay to Swellendam



Written by Marli Labuschagne

7 January 2024


“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have” 

Bob Marley

Being an elite athlete includes accepting that challenges are a part of your daily routine, pain and suffering go hand in hand with being the best in the game. Over the span of 5 days…this is exactly what I did. 

670km, 9300m elevation, 30 hours in the saddle, 5 men and 1 girl. It was never going to be easy.  With only one goal in mind – finishing the planned distance every day, I set out to the start of the camp in Jeffreys Bay with the hopes of becoming a better athlete by the end of this grueling but fulfilling process.

Day 1 quickly showed us what we had gotten ourselves into, with it personally being the hardest of the 5 days. 7 hours of riding in constant rain, hundreds of water crossings, rough terrain and dangerous descents challenged me – a pure roadie, in unimaginable ways. But with numb hands, a very rattled, broken body and an emotionally drained state of mind, perseverance, determination and faith carried me from day to day.

After only getting on a mountain bike three days prior to the start of the camp, it took some getting used to.
Once we had reached day 2 of the camp with over 10 hours of riding time behind us I had found my rhythm on the bike, and although pain was unavoidable at this point, mentally I had made a shift that pulled me through all the way to the end. You have to fight through the very worst days to earn the best days of your life. 

“It’s hard to put some emotions and feelings into words. Out in some of the most beautiful places in South Africa, in the midst of pain and suffering, with only you and your bike and miles upon miles of nothingness, an overwhelming sense of gratefulness washed over me. When every muscle in my body was begging to stop and the end seemed like it would never come, the guys were always there providing some motivation, and with a coach that never once stopped believing in me, the daily challenges were overcome one by one.”

The last day of the camp was avoided in any and every conversation up until the day before. 210km with 3000m elevation gain, it seemed like an impossible ask from a body that has been through 4 days of hurt in every imaginable way. Nonetheless we marched on, facing the grueling journey ahead of us. Self belief in my ability that brought me that far played a big role in the last day’s success.

Hour by hour I kept moving forward, counting down the kilometers, and with some tar road segments mixed with a bit of motor-pacing behind the car to throw in some much needed speed and adrenaline, what once seemed impossible turned into a doable task.

After 9 hours and 43 minutes I had reached the end, with tears of relief, gratitude and pain streaming down my face. What a journey!

With a group of likeminded people, all working towards a similar goal and providing each other with support, and a coach that believed in me more than I did in myself at times, I conquered the unimaginable. What started out as an idea around a table after a race, turned into an experience in my life that has changed me not only as an athlete but as a person, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Follow Marli on Instagram to follow her cycling journey.


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