Stuart Marais and Annah Watkinson delivered stellar performances at yesterday’s MiWay Durban Ultra Triathlon to take the wins in the Men’s and Ladies divisions respectively. Coming into the event as hot favorites, they did not disappoint as they ran away with 2 strong performances in some hot testing conditions.
Racing got underway for the Ultra Triathletes at 7:30am. The writing was on the wall early on when it was called as a non-wetsuit swim with the water tempo hovering around the 26 degree marker. With next to no wind and clear blue skies, athletes were in waiting for a day that will long remembered as one of the hottest days of racing yet to take place.
The swim started off at a frenetic pace with the ocean playing ball and allowing the Triathletes to swim in optimum conditions. First out of the water was the trio consisting of Rudolf Naude, Mark De Swart and Glen Gore. Not far behind them was pre-race favorite Marais who swam himself into the ideal position before the start of the 90km two loop bike.
Gerhard De Bruin was also in the mix early on as he, along with Naude and Marais carved out a lead of about 3 minutes after 45km from the chasing pack that included locals Donovan Geldenhuys, Freddy Lamprett and Brad Venter. Unfortunately for this group, they were handed a 5 minute penalty for drafting which allowed the leading threesome to gain an extra 5 minutes on this hot pursuing group before the start of the run.
Marias, the class act in the field over 21km took total control of the race as he headed for an easier victory than he might have expected. Naude was fading fast while De Bruin was hanging tough. Travis Johnson bolted out of the gates and managed to run himself into 2nd place with Geldenhuys taking a well-deserved 3rd place just in front of Lamprett.
On the ladies side, Watkinson and Magda Niewoudt came in as the favorites and it was once again, these 2 who dueled for the win. Both of them were only separate by around 60 seconds after the 1.9km sea swim but it was Watkinson who put the hammer down on the bike to stretch that lead by over 6 minutes by the time the bike was done. In control and without too much pressure, Watkinson race to the victory with Niewoudt putting in a faster run but having to settle for second place. Jade Nicole had a great solid all round performance over the 113km and this gave her a fine 3rd spot on the ladies podium.