Schomburg, Blackwell win at Mariental Africa Cup

17 November 2018

As the season closer for many athletes, Mariental Africa Cup did nothing shy of astound athletes as to the difficulty of the course. Facing the harsh heat wave on top of already warm temperatures and a duo of steep 15% gradient climbs every lap, athletes would have to dig deep to pull off a race to be proud of. Due to soaring temperatures, athletes lined up at 7:00am for an early start to avoid the worst of the Namibian sun. Thirteen male triathletes took to the Hardap Dam waters for a two lap 1500m swim. From the early stages three packs had formed, with South Africa’s Wian Sullwald in the first pack alongside Jonas Schomburg, Jonas Breinlinger (Germany) and Benjamin Shaw (Ireland). The front pack finished the swim in a time of 18:14. One minute back was the chase pack with South Africans Ben de la Porte and Dylan Nortjé with Michael Arishita (USA) and Mohamad Alsabbagh (Syria) in a time of 19:18. Just a few seconds off the chase pack was South Africa’s Matthew Greer and Herculaas Cronjé with Jordan’s Kareem Othman. Othman was unfortunately unable to complete the cycle leg and did not finish the race. The cycle course consisted of two 20km out-and-back laps, with two 15% gradient climbs per lap. Despite the hilly climbs, the lead pack maintained an impressive pace, completing the bike leg in a time of 58:56. The chase pack completed the cycle in a time of 1:01:24. Onto the single lap 10km run, Schomburg made an early move to the front with Shaw hot on his heels. The course followed that of the cycle, turning at the 5km point. Germany’s Breinlinger was in pursuit followed by Sullwald in fourth. With a few hundred meters to the finish Schomburg surged, leaving Shaw to run in for second place. Schomburg completed the run in a time of 35:40, finishing the race in 1:53:58. Shaw claimed the silver medal in a time of 1:54:09, followed by Breinlinger in third with a time of 1:54:58. In his first race back since taking some time off, Sullwald pulled together a fantastic race, finishing fourth in a time of 1:56:18. Fifth place was claimed by 19 year-old de la Porte in a time of 1:58:00. Nortjé claimed the sixth spot and was the final position eligible for points with a time of 1:58:44. Greer finished the race in 9th place with a time of 2:05:17. Adriaan Myburgh (RSA) finished 10th in a time of 2:05:53. Cronjé finished 11th in a time of 2:06:23.

The ladies’ race started 15 minutes after the men’s, with three South Africans taking to the water. Ashleigh Blackwell made her comeback to triathlon after several years of absence. Shanae Williams and Jodie Berry made up the remainder of the field. Williams’ swimming strength meant her lead out the water was an extensive 75 seconds on Berry and Blackwell, who finished the swim just 2 seconds apart. Williams’s swim time was 21:31. The chase was on to catch Williams. Blackwell made a breakaway on one of the climbs just before the turn around of the first lap. She closed the gap to Williams with 10km of cycling remaining. Berry had all but just closed the gap to Williams by the end of the cycle. Blackwell finished the cycle in a time of 1:10:02 and powered out of transition 2 onto the run. Berry and Williams left transition 2 just meters apart, Berry closing the remainder of the gap fairly quickly. Making a move on the first descent of the run, Berry opened up a gap on Williams, moving into second place. Blackwell and Berry ran identical times of 44:53, yet Williams was regrettably unable to finish the run. Blackwell finished first in a time of 2:19:14. Berry claimed the silver medal in a time of 2:20:41.