A handful of South Africa’s adventurous off-road triathletes had the honour of representing their country at the XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon World Championship in Kapalua, Maui on Sunday, 23 October 2016.
Reigning Fedhealth XTERRA South Africa Champion, Bradley Weiss had his heart set on a podium finish at the 2016 XTERRA World Championship. “I raced in Maui once before in 2014, so I had a pretty good understanding of the lay of the land and how the course would be set out,” says Weiss. “This year, however, we had plenty of rain in the week leading up to the event. This was really a deciding factor in the end. Those athletes better suited to wet and slippery conditions would thrive while the rest of us would be left battling the elements and our own equipment.”
“I had a great start to the swim, managing to avoid getting caught up in any of the big swells smashing onto the shore,” continues Weiss. “Exiting the water I was about two minutes down on the leaders. I struggled on the bike, the wet and muddy conditions resulted in me struggling to find traction. The mud in Maui is unique, almost like clay which just builds up on the tires and gets caught up in all the working parts of a bicycle, especially after hitting the deck a few times. Onto the run I just found a steady rhythm and tried to get an accurate indication of my position. I was in 13th place and ultimately that is where I would stay despite passing a few athletes only to be caught by others. I crossed the line in one piece which I am grateful for, but the taste of disappointment and frustration was still raw and almost too real to come to terms with.”
Michaele Van Den Heever represented SA in the 20–24 age group category. According to Van Den Heever, the XTERRA Word Championship was the hardest race that she has ever done. “The bike course was really tough. I pushed my bicycle for easily the first 6 miles because of the mud. The run was hard because the cycling was draining. The swim was the easiest. I came 6th in my age category. I am really happy with my performance. Apparently this was the hardest XTERRA race ever.”
For Tanya Rabie being amongst the international athletes was an amazing experience. “The vibe was awesome. I enjoyed the swim and the second part of the run. The mountain bike was hectic. There was so much mud that you couldn’t ride up or down the hills. It’s truly amazing that our bikes survived. I finished 4th in my age group category 45 – 49. I’d love to take part again, under better conditions though as it would be a great route if not muddy.”
Lizl Hobson secured a 7th place in the 50 – 54 age group category. “It was such a privilege and particularly inspiring to see athletes that are older than me win their age category,” says Hobson. “I really believe exercise slows down aging. These athletes look so good. I am very happy with my performance.”
Other impressive South African achievements at the XTERRA World Championship includes: Ralf Fletcher placing 19th in the 40 – 44 age category, Louis Goldberg placing 21st in the 35 – 39 age category and Johandri Leicester finishing 4th in the 25 – 29 age category.
“We are extremely proud of each and every South African XTERRA warrior that participated in the 2016 XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon World Championship,” says Michael Meyer, Managing Director of Stillwater Sports. “We look forward to welcoming you back to the Fedhealth XTERRA SA Series in 2017 where we hope that you will impart your experience with the rest of our XTERRA family.”