The 2nd annual MiWay Sun City Ultra which took place yesterday at the Sun Resort in the Pilanesberg literally rocked from start to finish.
The resort has never seen a triathlon event this big and it now rates as one of the biggest triathlons in South Africa. Well over 1100 competitors took to the race course to compete over the Ultra Distance (1.9km swim/90km bike/21km run) and the Sprint Distance (750m swim/20km bike/5km run) yesterday
In almost ideal conditions, slightly cooler at the start but with the temperature gradually heating up during the day, competitors took to the waters to start the 1st event of the day. Almost 700 athletes made their way around the Sun City Lake for the sprint event which got proceedings underway. A host of young talent was at hand competing against each other, ensuring that SA Triathlon has a bright future in years to come. The men’s was won by Giacomo Guerra with Gareth Marquiss a minute behind and stalwart, Tiaan Rossouw clinching bronze, a further 30 seconds back.
Madeleine Le Roux, one of SA’s bright triathlon stars ran away with the ladies victory from start to finish, putting 3 minutes into Lauren Dance (2nd) and Natalie Ross to ensure she won the ladies title in style.
The Ultra Triathlon started around 20 minutes after the sprint event with triathletes diving into the dam for the 2 loop, 1.9km swim. The leaders quickly distanced themselves from the pack with Glen Gore, Kent Horner, Clinton Gravett and defending champion Rudolf Naude putting 2 minutes into another pre-race favourite Freddy Lamprett. Defending ladies champion, Lucia Zelenkova known for her strong swimming was well in the lead of the ladies event, mixing and jostling with the lead pack of men. It was Gore who climbed out the water 1st with the trio chasing just behind. A long 400m run to T1 ensured that athletes raised their heart rates long before they came near their bikes. Horner, Naude and Gravett set off at a frenetic pace as they battled for the lead in the men’s race at the start of the bike leg. Gore was trailing just behind with Lamprett starting to cut back the deficit he lost in the swim and Travis Johnston also moving into contention after a relatively slow swim by his standards. Zelenkova was having a great bike and was well ahead of Claire Horner, Magda Niewoudt and Jade Nicole riding within her comfort zone.
Naude was soon to withdraw from the race before the half mark on the cycle with Horner ripping into a solid lead on the bike. Lamprett was closing in on Gravett as they set to try and chase down the leader on the bike. Zelenkova was in control on the bike and was maintaining a good lead over her stronger runner rivals before heading into T2 for the 21km run
The run leg which comprised a 2 loop run over the Resorts golf courses which tested the athletes resolve to the max as they were forced to work hard for the entire run. Lamprett has improved his run tremendously over the last few years and he quickly set about to overtake Horner and into 1st place. Behind him, Gravett, another strong runner was into 2nd place and keeping the pressure on Lamprett with less than 1 minute separating them on the road. Horner was now battling to hold off a fast finishing Johnston. It was Lamprett who crossed the line first in 4:13:07 with Gravett taking a well earned 2nd spot in 4:14:02 and Johnston rounding out the top 3 spots with a 4:19:23 to clinch bronze
Zelenkova had Claire Horner piling on the pressure over the run, forcing her to step on the gas to ensure she maintained her lead on the run. Horner was having a cracker of a run and was closing down the lead with each step over the run route which was pretty demanding for the athletes in some places. Niewoudt and Nicole were tied up in their own personal battle for the 3rd and final podium spot. Zelenkova defended her title in style with a well earned victory, stopping the clocks at 4:45:26 with Claire Horner a further 2 minutes back in 4:47:11 while Niewoudt hung on for the bronze in 5:04:35
Full Results can be found following this link