Ketsh Up co-founder will be back racing soon
Two years after racing in her first Ironman 70.3, Ketsh Up co-founder Rebecca Gatang’i will make her return to the roads for the Ironman 70.3 race in Dubai at the beginning of February.
After taking more than a year away from the sport, Gatang’i said the Dubai race was perfect to make her return since contesting her very first event in the Ironman 70.3 SA in 2016, a race she did not finish.
Gatang’i said the course was rated as easier to race and that she was excited to get back to competition again.
Despite the course being flatter, with a great atmosphere and wonderful sights, she said weather would play an important role in how race conditions were on the day.
“My main aim for the race is to finish well within the cut off time – I would say that is my biggest aim right now.
“Once I have achieved that, then I can look at things like improving my times and possibly increasing my training, keeping in mind that I would like to one day do a full Ironman,” the mother of two said.
Gatang’i said all three of her disciplines had improved a great deal, having competed in the 2018 Standard Bank 5150 series in addition to getting in some good strength and fitness sessions in between her swim, bike and run sessions.
She has had an eventful few years, racing in the 2017 70.3 race in Buffalo City not knowing she was pregnant.
“I had received a slot late in 2015 for the East London race the following year, but I had to be pulled from the water as I had trouble swimming but this did not deter me, and I went back the following year,” she said.
“In 2017, I could not put my finger on it – I thought maybe it was my nutrition that was not right, but something just never felt right. But I soldiered on and managed to finish the race.
“It was only later [that] I found out I was pregnant, giving birth in the September.”
She said she had founded the Ketsh Up programme in 2016 with friend Bianca Reichelt, as neither could swim or cycle efficiently at the time.
“Our aim was not just to break stereotypes around the sport, but to conquer fears.
“If we look at the sport itself, it is only now starting to diversify in terms of stereotypes, racial groups and women participation.
“Even though the programme is open to women of all races, I think because I am African, it tends to attract more black women to the sport, and ultimately that is the goal – that makes me so happy.”
She also commended the various coaches they have approached to assist athletes in honing their skills – including Natalie and Raynard Tissink, from Team Tissink Triathlon.
“They have now added another level to their training which deals with coaching beginners, like the Ketsh Up ladies, so they don’t [feel under] pressure as they learn how to improve themselves in the sport.
“Aspire Triathlon Club have developed a beginner’s swimming squad to help teach people to swim.”
Although she will not race in the 2019 East London 70.3 race, she will be there to support fellow Ketsh Up women Eunice Kefile, Zandile DanielsMpengesi and Thozama Ngqakaya, who will be racing as a team, Gatang’i said.
Looking ahead, she said she was looking at doing another 70.3 race later this year, as well as participating in a number of 5150 events.
Originally from Kenya, Gatang’i has been living in the country for almost 13 years and has built a happy home with husband and fellow triathlete Peter.
“As much Kenyans are known to be runners, we are not strong swimmers, and cycling is a mode of transport, so my parents were a bit concerned about me doing the sport, especially after my incident in 2016. But once they understood what the sport was about, they grew into it and supported me,” she said.
She also said she and her husband would take turns to do various races, with the one tackling the race and the other supporting.
Gatang’i works as a project manager in the local department of sports, recreation, arts and culture, where she is in charge of strategic projects.