Bradley Venter used to be one of the greatest jollers in the city of Shamrock Pies and Friesland Milkshakes, which makes sense considering things like Numbers’ R5 Fiesta and the fact that most of our mates were booze reps. So it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I saw that Brad now lives in Durban, is married, and is an Ironman. Yep, instead of getting fatter and balder like the rest of us, Brad has done a bit of a Benjamin Button and is now a South African Triathlon Champion.

Back in the day Brad was also one of East London’s many talented screwfoot surfers and was sponsored by Frontline Wetsuits. I used to use his hand me downs before he ballooned, but now he’s so ripped that I still wouldn’t fit into his wetsuits anymore. (Also he’s sponsored by a brand of wetsuit – Dare 2 Tri – that you can’t even surf in anyway.) What else? Instead of drinking upmteen cans of the Red Ambulance the day after the night before he’s now on something called 32GI, whatever that is. Anyway, it’s all very new and strange to me, so I got him to sit still for two minutes so that he could answer some questions before competing in Sunday’s Ironman South Africa event.

You’ve only been doing this for three years and already you’re SA Champ! How did this happen?
My main focus is the longer distance (ultra and full Ironman events) were I made the South African side in 2012 and 2013, but broke my ribs in Dec and lost nine weeks due to injury – so changed focus to speed work. I used SA Champs this year as a stepping stone to get back into competition and it just worked out that I felt really good on the day and managed to get the SA Champ title.

I remember when you used to drink 20-something cans of coke a day and were quite chubby. What made you change your lifestyle?
Funny that, yah I was just in a bad place at the time, too much time in night clubs and living the life of a joller. I decided I needed a break so that I could gather myself so I moved to Durban. The weather and lifestyle here is so conducive to sport that I had to get involved. I met a guy who was an ex pro-cyclist and joined him for a couple of rides and just like that I was hooked. A few dare triathlons later and I was fully hooked on the challenge of competing in three sports at the same time.

Now that you’re no longer the fattest ‘Slunden surfer, whose eating all the Shamrock Pies and drinking all the Friesland Milkshakes?
Haha, bru, not quite sure how to answer this in a nice way…

Do you still surf? If yes, does it make you better at Triathlons?
Surfing will always be a part of my life but Triathlon is a demanding sport, taking up plenty of time and a massive toll on your body. I try to get in four hours of training a day and with a full time job unfortunately my surfing has taken a back seat. But the knowledge surfing gives you of the ocean definitely gives you an advantage when it comes to swimming.

Now that you’re so fit, can you still jol as hard as you used to?
NEVER! The only jolling I do these days is reminiscing about the old days… Otherwise do weddings count?

It’s difficult enough doing one of these disciplines, how much harder is it doing all three in one go?
The hardest part is training your body to adapt from the one to the other, so training needs to be geared towards doing a couple of disciplines after each other on a regular basis. The beauty is that no matter what the weather you can always train.

Is your diet as strict as your training routine?
I’m not too fussy with my diet. I just don’t eat red meat and don’t drink alcohol anymore. Otherwise anything goes. As for training – twice a day every day of the week, with longer sessions on the weekend.

What’s in the pipeline?
I have taken a pro license for Ironman this year so looking forward to competing at a whole new level in this sport. Ironman South Africa is top priority at this time with the hope of competing in Austria at another Ironman 70.3 event later in the year (funds permitting), and competing at the World Champs in China. I also compete in the local MTB and cycle races over the winter months to keep fit.

Anything to add, please do so here
Never give up, stay determined, keep focused, and most of all remember that we do things for the fulfillment and enjoyment they give us and those around us.

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