Fear the Blur

I know a guy who has won Fear Factor before. That alone should ensure that I’m one degree away from greatness. A few years ago, 2006 to be exact, following a Half Ironman race with some friends in Clearwater, USA, we decided to have a holiday. One of those racers, Keith Buhr aka the Blur, instead of focusing on recovery and downtime opted to take part in Fear Factor (reality television at its finest) and ended up beating a builder from Kentucky in the finals. What follows is a piece I wrote on the Blur after his victory and an update from the man himself.

Flashback 2006:
One would have thought that his holiday would have been soured by his tough race, however not one to settle back and feel sorry for himself, Keith entered the Fear Factor Live show at Universal Studios a few days later. Going up against 20 other contestants, Keith made the last 6 contestants to go head-to-head in the Fear Factor final in front of a couple of thousand people. He fell from the height of a 5-storey building; put his hands a dozen times into a tank infested with electric eels; caught & threw octopi; climbed a building while being pelted with water guns and rubber balls; climbed onto the bonnet of a car suspended 3-storeys up and shot a target with a rocket launcher. I kid you not.

After a nail-biting finish against a Kentucky builder, The Blur became Fear Factor champion! Which goes down as one of the funniest and most impressive feats I have ever witnessed.

Present Day – The Blur speaks:

I was brought up in a family where sporting activities were chosen over that of computers, games and the likes. This was made easier due to the fact that my father was a 8 x Comrades Marathon finisher and promoted sport over tv etc as well as the fact that I have a twin brother, Steven, who was always there partnering me in whatever discipline, event we were focusing on at that time. Whilst at school we focused on the usual suspects - rugby, cricket, squash, tennis, cross country as well as taking up lifesaving when we moved down from JHB to Port Elizabeth (now the home of Ironman SA). We became conquerors of all, masters of none.

When we both left high school, we both committed to focusing on at least one NEW sport each year, whilst still enjoying all our usual overload of activities. Over the course of the uni years we got involved in: Beach volleyball, golf, rowing, rugby, waterpolo.

After uni, I upped my roots and moved to Cape Town where I became involved in Adventure racing - multi sport events involving trail running, mtb riding, canoeing etc. At this point in time my brother had taken up triathlon and was representing his province, EP. Based on my brother's involvement I did my 1st ever triathlon, the Energade sprint race in Gordons Bay - 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run. Being a complete novice I pitched up with a mtb (with nobblies) and a change of outfit for each discipline....finishing time of 1h30...I was absolutely knackered afterwards but the bug had bitten!!

I visited my family over Xmas in PE and on the 13th January 2001 I ended up going for a cycle with Steven and his mates - they were all training for IM SA 2001 (to be held in Gordon's bay in March). Well, to cut a long story short, the 45km ride was way beyond my comfort level and they ended up taking turns pushing me home. After which I was the subject of much abuse - the fact that my twin brother was to become an IRONMAN and I couldn't even finish a 45km cycle. And so my IM story began....with 2 months to go before the IM race day, I entered and started training for what would be my 2nd tri ever and my 1st IM race. Was it easy - hell no.
Did I get of my bike at times and crumble onto the floor - more than once. Did I shed a tear when the 100km/hr wind bought rain - yes! Did I curse when the wind stopped me dead in my tracks during my run - more like 5 curses.

Did I complete my 1st IRONMAN - there was never doubt!!

The triathlon and more specifically, the IM bug had bitten but the craving would have to wait a couple of years before it was relieved! I changed jobs a couple of times and continents twice, ending up in London, enduring the usual cr*p of finding a job, struggling to open bank a/c's etc. It took me over a year to find my tri calling again - by now my brother was also living in London and had got involved with the local tri scene. I jumped on the peloton and started cycling with the group - however, to my dismay, I found the cycling groups very "unfriendly" and very hard for a unfit/beginner to join. There was no holding back - if you got a puncture, you were left on your own...not easy when you are somewhere in the surrey hills and don't have a clue how to get home again!!
I still managed to do I decided to do a training w-end at the race venue. I took my brother with me and Barry invited a tri friend of his, namely Roberto Riccardi (the editor of this blog). To cut a long story short, Rob and I immediately found a common connection (our love for Triathlon) and we became solid mates. For the remaining 3 years I spent in London, there wasn't a week where we didn't train together, talk about the next tri race, plan the next IM holiday - yes, when you do IM races, your holidays get planned around the race - much to the dislike of our better halves....our wives! Whilst in London I had done the UK HIM, Switzerland IM, UK 70.3, 70.3 Clearwater world champs and a SA IM (not an easy race to train for as you train in the UK winter and then come race in SA in the heat of the summer) and multiple sprint and Olympic distance races. I was also privileged to be a part of the local tri club - SAUK Tri...a club that a number of us started and grew over the course of our stay in London. Tri and the club became family.

I returned to South Africa in March 2007 and immediately set my eyes on doing the SA IM one more time. I thought the training would be easier due to weather, having more time to train etc but I actually found that I did less training and was less motivated. Whether this was due to life's changes (relationships, changing continents, changing jobs, getting older, etc) or not I knew that I needed a break. If the heart is not in it, then you have no chance. So, after completing the 2008 IM, I called an early retirement on my IM races....for now!

Best race:
Although I have done a number of races, to say I have a best race would be hard. My most emotional race was definitely my 1st IM - to get through and finish that race on 2 months training took so much out of me emotionally. My best time for an IM was Switzerland. My most important race - Clearwater 70.3 World champs (but this was also my worst due to the huge issue of drafting, my pet hate, and because I cramped major on the run).

Best advice:
If you don't enjoy what you are doing - take a break and reassess your goals. Always remember that family will be there so treat them fairly.

Craziest training session:
243km ride from London to Bournemouth on the sat, 5km sea swim (in icy water) followed by 10km run on the Sunday, 243km ride back to London on the Monday (avg 28km/hr)

Tri - To make the SA team for Olympic tri (2009) and to break 11hrs for an IM (not sure when though). Personal - to be a good husband and father (getting married later in year). Sport - to do at least 1 Duzi canoe marathon, 1 Comrades marathon.

Year ahead:
Not much due to wedding, but will partake in a few races.

The Blur gets marrried this weekend! Happy days indeed.

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