Burger and Schwulst defend their titles at Mandela Triathlon

Top 5 men and women of the Long Walk Triathlon at prize giving. Jethro Snyders Photography

Saturday saw triathletes face some of South Africa’s toughest conditions at the fourth annual Mandela Day Triathlon. Midmar Dam was an icy 13.2 degrees Celcius and as if a compulsory wetsuit swim wasn’t enough for athletes to contend with, it was one of the windiest conditions the race organiser, Damian Bradley, had ever hosted a race in. Despite the cold water and gusty wind, the Short Walk Triathlon and Long Walk Triathlon saw some good competition and the event defending champions holding onto their titles. The event boasted two new sub categories, the Short Walk Duathlon and the Long Walk Duathlon.

The top 3 men of the Long Walk triathlon at the finish. Jethro Snyders Photography

In the Long Walk Triathlon a blistering pace was set from the start of the 1500m swim, with Namibian Jean-Paul Burger leading out on the swim in a time of 15:56, followed by Rudolf Naude in a time of 16:01. Keegan Cooke, Nolan Murray Steele and Matthew Greer were all within 7 seconds behind Naude out of the water and the four made up a chase pack on the bike leg. The cycle consisted of 4 laps of 10km making up the 40km total. On the last lap of the cycle Greer and Rudolf made a break from the chase pack in an unsuccessful attempt to close down on Burger. The Namibian cycled the fastest bike split for the day, a time of 55:23. Burger clocked a 33:54 on the run course, a hilly and partly off-road 10km from Midmar dam to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. He completed the race in a time of 1:46:14. Burger was followed to the line by Greer in second, who finished with a time of 1:49:26. Naude was third to finish in a time of 1:49:42.

The top 3 women of the Long Walk triathlon at the finish. Jethro Snyders Photography

In the ladies’ race, first out the water in a swim time of 17:47 was Jodie Berry, followed by Maude Elaine LeRoux and Cindy Shwulst. On the bike, Schwulst caught Berry halfway into the first of four laps, and the two worked together for the next two laps. Shwulst made a breakaway with less than 20km remaining. One of her strongest disciplines without question would be the cycle, as Shwulst pedaled away to T2 in pursuit of victory. Schwulst’s bike split clocked in at 1:05:05. Keeping her strength and form together on the very tough run course, Schwulst finished her 10km run in a time of 41:53, keeping the title of Mandela Triathlon champion in a finish time of 2:06:34. Second over the line was Berry, in a finish time of 2:13:48. Rounding up the podium was Maude Elaine LeRoux in a time of 2:23:24.

The top 3 women of the Short Walk triathlon at the finish. Jethro Snyders Photography

The top 3 men of the Short Walk triathlon at the finish. Jethro Snyders Photography

In the Short Walk Triathlon, a 600m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run awaited triathletes. Because the event was wetsuit compulsory, those who did not have a wetsuit were given the option to race an unofficial duathlon. The first athlete out of the water was none other than Glen Gore, followed closely by SA junior elite, Amber Schlebusch. Gore completed the swim in a time of 07:26. Schlebusch’s time was a cool 07:35. Schlebusch was followed into transition one by Scott Fisher. Ashleigh Irvine-Smith and Bridget Theunissen were the next two ladies out of the water and the third male onto the bike course was Jack Spence. Making ground on Gore, Schlebusch moved into the overall lead on the bike course, cycling a time of 33:42, the fastest bike split in the Short Walk Triathlon on the day. After some hard swim-biking, Schlebusch still had some fuel in the tank to get through the 5km run in a time of 21:26, finishing first overall in a time of 1:03:48. Gore finished first in the male category in an overall time of 1:04:38, with Cameron Nel in second place in a time of 1:06:41, boasting the fastest 5km run split of the day in a time of 21:06. Rounding up the men’s podium was Spence in a time of 1:06:57. The second lady into the finish chute was Theunissen in a time of 1:08:30, followed by Irvine-Smith in a time of 1:08:44.

The top 3 women of the Long Walk duathlon at prize giving. Jethro Snyders Photography

In the duathlons, Kwa Zulu Natal athletes dominated the field, with duathletes of all ages claiming their respective spots on the podium. The Long Walk Duathlon consisted of a 5km run, 10km cycle and 2,5km run. Chad Stevenson took the win in a time of 54:51. In second place was Sanele Shange with a time of 55:38 and hot on his heels finishing third in a sprint finish was Shaun Wolfaardt in 55:40. In the girls’ division Isabel Guirdham won the race in a time of 1:05:13. Second and third place went to sisters Jemimah and Alyssa Gass who finished in times of 1:10:20 and 1:11:09 respectively.

The top 3 men of the Short Walk duathlon at the finish. Jethro Snyders Photography

The top 3 women of the Short Walk duathlon at the finish. Jethro Snyders Photography

The Short Walk Duathlon consisted of a 2km run 5km cycle and 1km run. Thobani Mkhize won the race in a time of 28:52. Second was claimed by Ayanda Malevu with a finishing time of 30:48. Senzo Gcuma finished third in a time of 32:32. In the girls’ race, first over the line was Ella-Rose Gass in a time of 35:11 (and impressively finising 5th overall). Lucy Spence was next to finish in a time of 40:11. Third and rounding off the Short Walk Duathlon podium was Amahle Sithole in a time of 42:08.