Hot racing was the order of the day yesterday at the MiWay Midlands Triathlon, which took place at the idyllic, Midmar Dam.
Temperatures were already reaching 30 degrees at 7:30am in the morning just before race start. Athletes were going to be in for a tough day of racing. The decision by the technical officials to allow wetsuits when the water was 24 degrees warm and the outside temperature close to hot, might not have been the correct one. None the less, the triathletes put on their wetsuits and prepared themselves mentally for the 1.9km swim. It was Mark De Swardt who led from the front, going hard from the gun and opening up a sizeable gap between himself and Glen Gore. Gore had all the contenders on his heels. The lead pack on the swim included Matt Trautman, Freddie Lampret, Travis Johnson, Clinton Gravett and the leading lady, supreme swimmer, Lucie Zelenkova. De Swardt exited the water with about a 2 minute lead with the rest of the chase pack swarming into the change tents to head out onto the bike. It was Trautman who left most of the competitors behind in the early stages of the bike leg as he stamped is authority on proceedings from the start. Lampret and Johnson were working well together to try and restrict the damage that Trautman was un-leashing out on the tough, 3 loop 90km bike leg. The MiWay Midlands Ultra has one of the toughest bike courses in SA and the strong bikers were showing their true mettle as they maintained averages close to 40km/h. Zelenkova was still the lead lady at 15km but Annah Watkinson was breathing down here neck, eventually taking the lead just before the 20km marker. She had Claire Horner and the rest of the ladies, chasing hard as she started to gradually open up a sizeable gap. Out on the bike course, Trautman was looking strong. Lampret and Johnson worked hard to preserve their 2nd and 3rd place positions out on the bike course. Gerhard De Bruin and Brad Venter were chasing as well to stay inside with the top 5 overall with defending champion, Donovan Van Gelder working his way through the field, closing in on the top positions nearing the end of the bike.
The ladies race saw Watkinson increase her lead out on the bike as the girls drew closer to the finish of the tough 90km bike leg. Temperatures were hovering around 35-38 degrees with not a breath of wind to cool the athletes down as all the athletes battled the hills and more hills that the midlands bike route has to offer. Athletes were starting to take strain with some of the early favourites pulling out due to de-hydration long before the run even started.
Trautman was looking invincible and was putting down the hammer on the 21km run course. Only Lampret and Johnson were applying some form of pressure with Van Gelder, now running into 4th spot and eyeing the podium. Trautman crossed the finish line in a time of 4:08:30 with Lampret taking a w ell deserved Silver in 4:20:42 and Johnson the final podium spot in 4:27:20
The ladies race saw Watkinson have the run all her own way as she put in a 1:32 run split to post the winners time of 4:47:24. Runner up was Claire Horner in a solid 5:01:32 with Desiree Dickinson taking 3rd place in a time of 5:19:40
The sprint race held earlier in the day was won by elite racer Rudolf Naude while Lauren Dance took the ladies title A very successful even concluded with athletes receiving the very best in professional race organisation. The MiWay Ultra series is set to grown even bigger with the next event taking place at Sun City in May. For more info, visit www.ultratri.co.za
Full results can be found here