Durban – Sunday’s 2018 MiWayLife Durban Ultra Triathlon dished up drama aplenty with sea conditions and atmospheric conditions making the going tough, but this didn’t stop Bradley Weiss and Annah Watkinson from storming to the respective men’s and women’s title on Durban’s Golden Mile.
Gnarly surf conditions greeted competitors entered for the Ultra event which forced organisers to shorten the swim from 1.9km to 1.2km in a bid to keep the athletes safety at the top of mind.
With that said the swim was well received by the majority of the competitors as they prepared to battle it out for the South African Long Distance Triathlon title.
For current XTERRA World Champion Weiss, his win was never in doubt after he managed to gain the advantage with a strong early portion of the bike leg, and from there it was a formality as he continued his dominance through the run and cantered home to a near ten minute victory.
“I really enjoyed the course and even though on-road triathlon is something quite new to me I am learning a lot every race and it’s great to get the win here,” the Puma/Specialized star commented.
“I am still testing out quite a lot from nutrition to equipment but I feel like I am starting to get everything under control.”
The swim might have been the only weakness in a race that was borderline flawless from the Somerset West-born star. Getting through that tough early section was crucial despite his surf swimming experience.
“I didn’t have a great start and didn’t quite pick the right line which is quite a challenge when you are swimming in a rough sea.
“A lot of the XTERRA races take place with the swim leg in the ocean so I am fairly familiar with it but today’s swim was tough,” he added.
The men’s field spread fairly early in the race and James Cunnama slotted comfortably into second position while the battle for third heated up spectacularly during the run.
Ryan Schmitz held the cards heading into the run, however fatigue seemed to take control as he fell back with a rampant Philipp Sassie motoring through the field and recording the second fastest time on the run to take the bronze medal.
The ladies race was an exciting showdown throughout the first two disciplines of the race with three athletes, Watkinson, Jade Roberts and Magda Nieuwoudt all in the mix until the defending champion Watkinson out-muscled them on the run to win by nearly nine-and-a-half minutes.
The start was far from ideal for Watkinson who fell prey to the rough surf, however once she was on her bicycle she always had the idea that she was in control.
“I got dunked by a wave coming in on the swim and lost my goggles!” she chuckled. “From there I knew that I was on the back foot a bit but on the bike I let the other girls do most of the work and then when I got onto the run I decided to put the hammer down.
“I had a feeling that if I managed to keep the girls close on the bike then I would be able to dominate on the run and that is what happened.
“The run course is brilliant and the three laps makes it go by so quickly and the support out there was incredible, not just from spectators but from the other athletes as well!”
The run took no prisoners and Nieuwoudt was the one casualty as she had to withdraw handing Roberts second place and it promoted Mariella Dierks onto the podium.
The tough surf conditions forced organisers to cancel the swim for the athletes taking part in the Sprint event, which meant a duathlon was decided upon with athletes tackling a 1km beach run, followed by their 20km bike leg and then the 5km run.
It was a one-man show throughout the race as Travis Johnston led the contest from the gun and never conceded his lead throughout.
He powered his way ahead on the bike leg that gave him a clean run in to take the Sprint title on Sunday.
Young Ben de la Port tried in vain to keep up with the winner and had to settle for second place in the Sprint with Asher Biggs coming home to claim the bronze medal.
The ladies race followed a similar pattern as the young Amber Schlebusch was far too strong for the rest of the ladies field as she dominated to take home the ladies Sprint title ahead of S’annara Grove in second and junior Bridget Theunissen in third.
What was most impressive about the performance of Schlebusch was the fact that she finished fifth overall.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – MiWayLife Durban Ultra Triathlon
1.Bradley Weiss 03:43:36
2.James Cunnama 03:53:21
3.Philipp Sassie 03:58:18
4.Chris Bruchhausen 04:00:57
5.Ryan Schmitz 04:03:30
6.Gerhard de Bruin 04:03:47
7.Brad Fleming 04:07:09
8.Donovan Geldenhuys 04:07:37
9.Nicholas Chapman 04:09:43
10.James Curtin 04:11:10
1.Annah Watkinson 04:17:29
2.Jade Roberts 04:26:56
3.Mariella Dierks 04:37:55
4.Eulali Gouws 04:40:45
5.Haylee Mee 04:54:27
1.Travis Johnston 47:44
2.Ben De La Porte (U19) 50:37
3.Asher Biggs (U19) 51:19
4.Darren Marquiss (U23) 52:56
5.Amber Schlebusch (U19) 55:08
1.Amber Schlebusch (U19) 55:08
2.S’annara Grove 57:13
3.Bridget Theunissen (U19) 58:19
4.Tegan Gore (U19) 59:44
5.Lushano Smit 01:00:52