Travis Johnston and Kirsten Schut lived up to the pre-race hype of favourites at yesterdays Midlands Ultra Triathlon held at Midmar Dam in the KZN Midlands
Weather conditions were perfect as the sprint triathletes got proceedings underway at 7am. It was Pieter-Jan Van Der Merwe who was 3rd out of the water just behind Ben De La Porte that put in a surge as the athletes made their way out onto the undulating 22km bike course to carve a gap that De La Porte could not close. Vd Merwe was in control on the run as he headed for a fine victory with De La Porte cruising into 2nd place. A great race by Josh Wiiborg saw him claim the final podium spot to claim the bronze.
On the ladies side, Amber Schlebusch was in control from the swim and showed her power on the bike to put a big gap into Bridget Theunissen before the ladies headed out onto the road. Theunissen was having a great race of her own but she had to work really hard as fast charging S’annara Grove overtook her on the bike to set up a great duel over the 5km run course. Schlebusch was well up the road and took the win for her 2nd victory at Midmar in a row with Theunissen coming home for second and Grove settling for 3rd.
In the Ultra race, it was Mark De Swardt who led the swimmers out after the 1.9km dam swim. Pre-Race favourites Travis Johnston and Donovan Van Gelder were not too far behind with Johnston having a 1:15 lead over Van Gelder before they started the tough 3 loop 90km bike leg. Van Gelder caught Johnston on the bike but Johnston was not letting him get away that easy. Van Gelder knew he would have to put time into Johnston on the bike before the run as this is where Johnston normally works the magic. Van Gelder held a slender 45 second gap as the athletes made their way onto the 21km run section.
Gavin Mofsowitz was having a fantastic race of his own as he came off the bike in 3rd place with a few other athletes all vying for that final podium spot. Johnston overtook Van Gelder on the run and gradually increased his lead over the 3 loop run run course to win in 4:15. Van Gelder is a known fighter and did not make it easy for him coming home in 2nd, only 3 minutes back. Mofsowitz had a fantastic run to sew up the 3rd spot for one of his best races to date
On the ladies side, Kirsten Schut was in control from the swim and essentially had the race wrapped up after the bike leg. That however did not deter her from completing a solid run over the 21km distance in 1:36 to take the win in just under 4:55. Next up was Juliet Donaldson and Michele Read who were battling it out for the 2nd and 3rd placings respectively. Donaldson took the 2nd in 5:33 with Read coming home 4 minutes later
A great days racing in perfect weather conditions saw the best of the best take on what is SA’s most iconic Half TRI event.