Cunnama and Sawyer race to victory at the Durban Ultra Triathlon
James Cunnama and Mariela Sawyer put in some dominant displays on Sunday 3 March to take the 2019 Durban Ultra Triathlon titles in fine style
After some heavy downpours during the night, near perfect race conditions greeted the Durban Ultra athletes as they arrived to rack the bikes and get ready for the 7am start. A light drizzle and no wind set the scene for some fast-exciting racing from the start. Swim conditions were a little trickier than expected and a non-wetsuit swim call had some rather nervous looking swimmers chewing on their nails as they contemplated the 600m swim for Sprint athletes and the 1.9km swim for the Ultra triathlon guys and girls.
The sprint race was first off with most of SA’s best athletes for this distance in attendance. True to form, Matthew Greer – one of the country’s leading elites, led the field from the start to the finish line as he scorched to a blistering win in 1hr01min win. South African Youth Olympic Representative Christian Stroebel was next in to claim the silver while Herculaas Cronje finishing only 7 seconds later, claiming 3rd spot. In the ladies’ race, is was Tegan Gore who led the ladies’ field after the swim with Jodie Berry and Lauren Cannon hot on her heels. On the 20km flat and fast bike leg, Berry managed to over-take Gore on the bike and headed into T2 with a good commanding lead over her closest 2 rivals. Cannon was next out on the run with Gore trying hard to close the gap. Berry took a deserving 1st place podium spot with locals Cannon and Gore taking 2nd and 3rd respectively.
In the Ultra race, the big guns were out in force in the men’s race with Cunnama, Matt Trautman. JP Burger, Ryan Schmitz, Rudolf Naude and Gerhard De Bruin all in attendance. Naude managed to edge out Glen Gore in the swim, to take a commanding lead at the start of the bike leg. Cunnama had a great swim and managed to separate himself from his closest rivals Trautman and Burger over the 1900m surf swim which despite a choppy start.
Burger was next up chasing down Cunnama with Trautman and Schmitz a few minutes behind. Cunnama managed to put in a storming 1st 22.5km out on the bike course and had then carved up a big lead over the chasing foursome of Trautman, Burger, Schmitz and Naude – who were trying hard to limit the damage that Cunnama was un-leashing on the bike.
Once off the bike and out of T2, Cunnama ran a controlled 21km run distance to take the win in 3:48. Trautman and Burger were jostling for that elusive runner-up spot with Trautman making his move with just over 1 lap to go, dropping Burger to then claim 2nd spot all for himself in 3:53. Burger had a solid hit-out coming in 2 minutes after Trautman to complete the male podium positions for the day.
In the ladies race – pre-race favourite Jade Roberts had a duel on her hands with Cape athlete Mariela Sawyer putting some major pressure on her from the start, along with another Cape Athlete Michelle Krebs. Sawyer, a class runner, put in a superb effort to streak away over the final 10km of the run with Krebs and Roberts playing yo-yo between 2nd and 3rd spot. Krebs managed to take the silver medal but not without a fight from Roberts who finished a mere 30 seconds after her.
It was a great day out with hundreds of athletes enjoying the super-fast Durban Course and the ideal weather conditions. Next up is the Sun City Ultra which takes place in early MAY. Entries are now open at www.ultratri.co.za
For Full Durban Ultra Triathlon RESULTS, click below: