Two-time XTERRA World Champion Flora Duffy is the best racer in the world of off-road triathlon.
In 2016 she has the chance to prove she’s the best in the world of road triathlon too as she prepares for her third Olympic games this summer in Rio.
First, Duffy will kick off her season by trying to make it three-in-a-row at the XTERRA South Africa Championship on Saturday. By doing so, she will be providing triathlon fans at the Grabouw Country Club with a glimpse into greatness.
“I'm excited for Saturday and can't believe it is time to race again,” said Duffy, who is focusing on WTS races in her build-up to Rio this year but couldn’t resist racing here. “XTERRA South Africa is my favorite race so I always have to show my support.”
In turn, thousands of XTERRA Warriors in South Africa will show Duffy their support this weekend and on her road to Rio.
XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas is in South Africa and brings us this report on the eve of the 12th annual SA Championship.
“Great to be back in Grabouw for the FedHealth XTERRA South Africa Championships, which are being held on Saturday this year,” said Nicholas. “There have been drought conditions for several years here and the once huge reservoir is definitely lower. There is still plenty of water to have the traditional 1500m point-to-point swim, but legendary route manager Hendrico Burger points out that it’s another 30-meters form the edge of the water to transition this year.”
“It’s looking like rain tonight and the forecast for tomorrow is calling for showers as well. The forecast for the race itself, however, is a bit unclear. While he looks strong, the rumor has it that Bradley Weiss, the very fast South African pro who won in the Philippines just two weeks ago, was a bit ill. He says he is feeling fine and the world will find out tomorrow. On the women's side, Flora is looking fabulous and is happy to be racing.
Switzerland's Jan Pyott is here with Frenchman Brice Daubord and young Austrian pro Dominic Wychera is starting his season early. A host of South African men are in the race, none stronger than last year’s winner Stuart Marais.
Carina Wasle, who has won Grabouw a few times is back along with other fellow two-time winner Carla Van Huyssteen, and local Susan Sloan who finished in the top 10 at XTERRA Worlds last year. The very fast Austrian pro Sandra Koblemueller has been here for a few weeks and actually won a 32K trail run over some of Africa's fastest women last weekend. She laughed when I asked her if she was taking swimming lessons. Once Sandra gets out of the water only a few minutes behind - watch out.
Michael Szymoniuk from Vienna and Theo Blignaut from South Africa have withdrawn due to injuries.
Yes, the legendary Conrad Stoltz is entered, but as the swimmer on a team. We saw the Caveman today as he got set for his "red couch" interview and he looks happy. He just finished work on his house yesterday and smiled saying he had not swum since Italy last September. We stopped by his Caveman Cafe located inside a very cool Specialized agency. It has a great kids track just in front and a dirt pump track alongside. Worth the visit.
Organizers have created a tent village on a bluff just above the swim start. Most of their crew and several traveling athletes are camping there and the night scene is great. I would imagine it will be quieter tonight as tomorrow starts early.
Race start is at 8am in the morning here, that's 10pm Friday night in California. We'll try to have results and photos for you when you wake up on Saturday.”