Olympians Richard Murray (South Africa) and Flora Duffy (Bermuda) claimed the coveted men’s and women’s Champions title at the 2017 Fedhealth XTERRA South African Championship in Grabouw on Saturday, 25 February 2017.
Murray’s victory didn’t come easy, having been caught up in a game of cat and mouse with reigning champion Bradley Weiss.
“I expected to be on Flora’s feet in the swim, but instead I found myself in front with everyone on my feet. I took it easy on the bike. Bradley caught me in the first 6km. Four years ago Conrad only caught me on the 12km mark so I was very worried. Bradley then punctured at 10 – 12km, but caught me again at round about the 18km mark. Going into the run I thought I’d catch him sooner than I did. He is really quick on the up-hills. I’d catch him, only to have him pull away on the hills. I caught him again on the last climb and pushed really hard on the downhill to get away. I must give massive credit to Bradley. He has come a long way and would more than likely have beaten me today had he not punctured on the mountain bike. XTERRA is an amazing event. It’s well organised and the athletes are treated really well.” Murray completed the 1.5km swim, 26km MTB, 12.5km trail run in a lightning fast time of 02 hours 22 minutes 46 seconds.
According to Weiss, he had a calm start to the race. “I knew Richard was the favourite and that he’d be under pressure to set the pace. I had a good swim and was only about 20 seconds behind. I caught him at the top of the first climb, but then both my tyres suffered a slow puncture. I only had one bomb, but managed to sort out both tyres. I caught Richard again just before the rock garden. Going into the run I had about a 1 minute lead, but knew that with Richard I needed at least 2 minutes. Going onto the run after the mountain bike discipline isn’t easy. It took Richard longer to close the gap than I had expected. He finally caught me and then just kept me at bay. If you’re going to beat Richard you need to have a near perfect race, unfortunately I didn’t have that today. That is how racing goes so I’m happy to finish second.”
Stuart Marais claimed the final spot on the podium in the men’s race.
Duffy successfully secured her fourth consecutive Fedhealth XTERRA South African Champion title in a deserving time of 02 hours 39 minutes. “Being the first race of the season, you don’t really know where you’re at,” says Duffy. “I was a little nervous, but everything went well and I had a lot of fun. I had a good swim, sticking to Mari’s feet. On the bike I worked hard on the climb, and went smoothly on the technical sections. I’m currently nursing a hip injury, so on the run I decided to practise more control. XTERRA Grabouw is always special. It’s where I started. I’m very happy with my fourth victory.”
“I’m absolutely delighted to come second today,” says Rabie. “I enjoy XTERRA because it’s tough and rocky. I was actually in competition with my boyfriend. We’ve both just retired from racing, and this was his first triathlon. He actually beat me, so I guess he takes the XTERRA crown.”
Making her XTERRA debut on the day, Rachel Klamer (Netherlands) rounded off the podium in the women’s race.
The Prize Purse for the Fedhealth XTERRA South African Championship was increased to a whopping R154 000. The top five finishers in the XTERRA Full men’s and women’s races received prize money, with the first place winners each taking home R30 000.
“We were once again overwhelmed by the number of XTERRA Warriors that lined up on the start line today,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports. “Even more impressive was the number of first time contenders. Grabouw offers the perfect setting for a world class event. We are thankful to all entrants for their support and look forward to continue growing the sport of XTERRA in South Africa.”
Says Jeremy Yatt, Principal Officer of Fedhealth: “The Fedhealth XTERRA Grabouw Full event is the one to do if you’re a serious off-road triathlete, or keen to clinch one of the various age group qualification slots for the XTERRA World Championships taking place in Hawaii in October. Grabouw offers unforgiving, yet breath-taking terrain, and the chance to bring your family to either participate or spur you on across the finish line. It’s no wonder it’s the biggest XTERRA event in the world.”
Forming part of the XTERRA World Tour, athletes taking part in the Fedhealth XTERRA Grabouw stood a chance to qualify for the XTERRA World Championship that will take place in Maui later in the year.
Photo credits: Tobias Ginsberg