South Africa take on Rwanda's first African Cup sprint triathlon at Lake Kivu
4 August 2018
In terms of the race, a Southern Africa showdown unfolded at the Lake Kivu sprint triathlon African Cup this past weekend. A four-hour bus trip from the capital (Kigali) lands you near the border of the DRC and in a tropical climate that proves ideal for racing. Four South African athletes showed their fighting colours up against Namibia’s Commonwealth triathlete, Jean-Paul Burger in the men’s race. In the ladies’ race, South Africa’s Jodie Berry raced in her first race this year since undergoing an operation in January.
The men’s race started with a 750m swim in the volcanic waters of Lake Kivu, an immense expanse hugging the hills and valleys of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The first athletes out the water were Dylan Nortjé (RSA) and Matthew Greer (RSA), in a time of 9:35, followed by Rinaldo Morgia (RSA) some 16 seconds behind. Next out the water was JP Burger (NAM) followed by Gregory Ernest (MRI) and Darren Marquiss (RSA). Out on the bike a pack formed with Burger eager to break away. The lead pack consisted of Burger, Greer, Nortjé and Morgia. Following behind the leaders were Marquiss and Ernest. The course stretched out just over 3,3km and a total of six laps were needed to complete the cycle, with a short but nasty hill close to halfway through each lap. The men recounted no fewer than 15 attempts by Burger to make a break from the group, but the pack stayed intact right up until the dismount line. The cycle was completed by the lead pack in just over 30 minutes. A blistering pace was set at the start of the 2 lap 5km run, with Greer and Burger striding shoulder to shoulder until the 100m home straight, clocking a fastest run of 16:02. In a sprint finish, Burger took the win. Greer finished in second place in a time of 56:16 (two seconds behind Burger), with Nortjé rounding up the rostrum in a time of 57:50. Fifth place was claimed by Morgia, who managed to survive the run course despite a hampering injury. Morgia was followed to the line by Marquiss in 6th, who unfortunately had a crash on the bike course.
In the ladies’ race, four triathletes lined up on the shores of Lake Kivu, with Jodie Berry of South Africa the clear favourite. Her race unfolded well with a lead from start to finish and enough comfortable room for error. Just as well, as the moment she stepped foot onto the run course she was plagued by severe cramping. Most of her run was at snail’s pace, but once she saw the finish line she managed to finish strong. She completed the course in a time of 1:11:55 followed by Rwanda’s Uwineza Hamani in a time of 1:23:42. Points were what she needed and as such her race may be catalogued as a success.
The race technical delegate, Zimbabwe’s Catherine Jennings as well as Rick Fulton were the pillars on which the entire event lay, as they not only put together a great race but also ran a level one course officials for the Rwandan Triathlon Federation. The federation’s vice-president, Ida-Alexandra Humuza-de Cordier was also a star in ensuring athletes had what they needed, when they needed it. Rwandan locals, organisers and athletes were found to be very friendly and most welcoming.