A small but competitive field gathered for the first St Francis Bay half ironman distance race this past Sunday.
With a pristine venue and perfect conditions for the start, it was race favourite Keegan Cooke who dominated from the outset as he produced a near flawless performance to take the title.
His counterpart, Mariella Sawyer, came up with an equally impressive race and claimed the ladies’ title. The Capetonian, who was the pre-race favourite, came home in a time of 4 hours 25 minutes and 20 seconds.
Sawyer led into transition for all 3 disciplines showing off her new assertive approach to races. “Being aggressive in the beginning of a race is usually a point where I struggle a little in a race, so the aim was to have a quick start, keep the intensity into the bike and finish with a strong run, so I am happy that things went according to plan”, she said.
Cooke on the other had seemed to race well within himself and looked comfortable for his 113km. “I was very happy with my start and felt quite strong on the bike which is where I think I did quite a bit of damage on the field” said Cooke.
“Today I needed to execute everything to the best of my ability and if I could do that, I knew I would be well on my way to winning, so I am pretty stoked with it”.
The victory in 3 hours 53 minutes and 29 seconds makes it 2 out of 3 for Cooke who was the inaugural Peoples Triathlon champion as well as taking victory on Sunday.
The win for Cooke and Sawyer also sees them take home their share of the R24 000 prize pool in the race presented by PW Harvey and Co.
Second place in the men’s race was taken by Brad Birkholtz (4:09:19) and third went to the triathlon legend Raynard Tissink (4:10:51)
In the ladies’ section Toinette Van Niekerk stormed past Michelle Howes in the final laps to take second in a time of 4 hours 45 minutes and 56 seconds eventually beating Howes by 1 minute and 46 seconds.
The team section was won by Team Matrix Mens A in a time of 4:39:01, they were followed by Team PVCE Multisport Young Guns (5:33:03) and Team PVCE Multisport Founders (5:47:09) in third.
The race also offered a much-needed boost in tourism to the St Francis Bay tourism sector during the off-peak season with 90% of athletes overnighting in the area.
Further to that the Peoples Triathlon continued its support of the End Polio Now campaign with a R5000 donation to rotary and will be looking to further that with a move to become an annual event along scenic St Francis Bay canals.
1st Keegan Cooke 03:53:28 1st Mariella Sawyer 04:25:20
2nd Bradley Birkholtz 04:09:19 2nd Toinette van Niekerk 04:45:56
3rd Raynard Tissink 04:10:51 3rd Michelle Howes 04:47:40
4th Carl Mangan 04:17:32 4th Christine Harding 04:51:46
5th Manfred Lambrechts 04:24:01 5th Pauline Tunstead 05:12:59.
Full results available on www.zsports.co.za/ultratri
Photo: Richard Pearce