Stellenbosch is close enough to Grabouw for Bradley Weiss to regard the Grabouw XTERRA as a trot in his backyard and the 29-year-old off-road triathlon super-start certainly took full “home-ground” advantage at the SA Championship, retaining his title in emphatic fashion.
Weiss enjoyed perfect racing conditions to cross the line in 2 hr 29 min 08 sec – 4 minutes clear of Cameron Macnair – after a 1.5km swim in the Eikenhof Dam, a 27km mountain bike course in the foothills of the Groenland Mountains and a 12.4km trail run, mostly on single track around the dam.
Hout Bay is somewhat further away, but that did not stop Hayley Preen, who is based there, from completing the race of her life to win the national championship in an excellent 2:51:40. Preen finished 11 minutes ahead of Stellenbosch’s Vicky van der Merwe, with her time 3 seconds faster than Austrian, Carine Wasle, who won last year, although over a different course.
Consistency is Weiss’ watchword, with the local lad finishing just 13 seconds slower than his winning effort last year. “It was perfect weather to race today,” said a happy Weiss. “Coming into the race having won the 70.3 South African Championship meant that my form was pretty good, but it’s always tricky switching between road and mountain bike.
“I loved the new course. It had a lot of climbing and I really enjoyed the new single-track sections that were added. The run around the dam was flat and fast, and I’m very happy to take the win and another South African title.”
For the multi-talented Preen, it was a perfect day. “The swim is always my weakest discipline, but I feel that I had a fairly good swim. I think I came out the water about 10th woman,” said Preen. “I caught Vicky, who was in second place, about 3km into the bike leg and the leader, Johandri Leicester, near the top of a major climb after about 7km.
“I just love the whole off-road triathlon vibe. My goal was to make the podium today. Crossing the finish line in first place was amazing. My next race is the mountain bike Cape Town Cycle Tour next weekend and then the road version the week after. I think my first trail race will be the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge in May.”
XTERRA SA Championships, Grabouw (1,5km swim, 27km mountain bike, 12km trail run)
Men: 1 Bradley Weiss 02:29:08, 2 Cameron Macnair 02:33:10, 3 Michael Ferreira 02:36:16, 4 Adriaan Myburgh 02:37:38, 5 Gaetan Vivien (France) 02:38:59, 6 Michael Ross 02:39:46, 7 Jari Claes 02:42:08, 8 Maniora Regis 02:43:26, 9 Daniel Mannweiler 02:45:30, 10 Emde Nick 02:45:44
Women: 1 Hayley Preen 02:51:40, 2 Vicky van der Merwe 03:02:41, 3 Johandri Leicester 03:06:12, 4 Taryn-Maie Wille 03:10:28, 5 Svetlana Ushakova (Russia) 03:15:54, 6 Pauline Aigon 03:16:32, 7 Tanya Rabie 03:21:49, 8 Rita Terblanche 03:24:10, 9 Benita Kasch 03:25:35, 10 Sandy Russel 03:27:05