Olympians Richard Murray and Flora Duffy captured the 14th annual Fedhealth XTERRA South Africa Championship on a magnificent Saturday morning at the Grabouw Country Club, which sits on the edge of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve in the Elgin Valley about an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
It’s the second XTERRA SA title for Murray, who won his first in 2013, and the fourth straight for Duffy, who has won 11 consecutive XTERRA majors and 15-of-18 since her off-road debut in 2013.
In the men’s race Murray, who placed 4th at the Rio Olympics last summer, needed every bit of his world-class endurance and speed to hold off the reigning SA Champ Bradley Weiss. He completed the 1.5km swim, 26km mountain bike, and 12.5km trail run in a lightning fast time of 2:22:46, just 19-seconds ahead of Weiss.
“Bradley seriously gave me a proper run for my money,” said Murray, who took the lead out of the water but quickly had company on the bike. “He caught me in the first 6km, and four years ago here it took Conrad 12km to catch me, so I was very worried. From there it was literally a cat-and-mouse game the whole event.”
Weiss, who won all three races in the FedHealth XTERRA South Africa series last year and the first one he entered this season at Nelson Mandela Bay two weeks ago, was 20-seconds back of Murray out of the swim and in a good spot on the bike before bad luck slowed him down.
“I caught Richard at the top of the first climb, but then both my tires suffered a slow puncture,” said Weiss. “I only had one bomb, but managed to sort out both tires. I caught Richard again just before the rock garden and going into the run I had about a one-minute lead, but knew that with Richard I needed at least two minutes.”
Murray added, “Bradley punctured at about the 10km mark, but caught me again at 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.”
It was indeed an impressive day for Weiss, who fractured his scaphoid bone during a training ride in December and just recently returned to full training.
Stuart Marais, the 2015 SA Champ, finished third to make it a podium sweep for South African men. XTERRA Belgium great Kris Coddens finished fourth, followed by Theo Blignaut, James Cunnama, and Francois Carloni from France.
“XTERRA is an amazing event. It’s well organized and the athletes are treated really well,” said Murray, who has made no secret of his ambition to win the XTERRA World Championship in Maui this October.
TOP 10 ELITE MEN
|1||Richard Murray, RSA||2:22:46|
|2||Bradley Weiss, RSA||2:23:05|
|3||Stuart Marais, RSA||2:24:42|
|4||Kris Coddens, BEL||2:31:36|
|5||Theo Blignaut, RSA||2:31:59|
|6||James Cunnama, RSA||2:34:32|
|7||Francois Carloni, FRA||2:35:27|
|8||Michael Lord, RSA||2:35:30|
|9||Dominik Wychera, AUT||2:38:17|
|10||Antoin Van Heerden, RSA||2:38:19|
In the women’s race Duffy did what she does best … dominate. Her winning time of 2:39:00 was more than six-minutes faster than runner-up and SA Olympian Mari Rabie.
“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.”
Rabie, a two-time SA Champ (she won her first XTERRA title back in 2005), may be “retired” but is still one of the fastest female triathletes alive.
“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 from the Netherlands rounded off the podium in the women’s race.
TOP 10 WOMEN
|1||Flora Duffy, BER||2:39:00|
|2||Mari Rabie, RSA||2:45:31|
|3||Rachel Klamer, NED||2:54:11|
|4||Vicky Van Der Merwe, RSA||3:02:08|
|5||Nicolette Griffioen, RSA||3:04:34|
|6||Johandri Leicester, RSA||3:06:16|
|7||Sylvia Van Tromp, RSA||3:08:23|
|8||Kate Munnik, RSA||3:15:19|
|9||Megan Skowno, RSA||3:15:30|
|10||Colleen De Oliveria, RSA||3:17:25|
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.”
XTERRA President Janet Clark added that the “vibe here is so cool. As you drive in you are greeted with signs that say ‘Welcome to XTERRA Country.’ African drummers and the national anthem start the day – a mass start with one lap of 1,500 meters. There are warriors everywhere, families hanging out, a FedHealth Kids zone with art supplies, bouncing castle and movies, a ProNutro breakfast zone serving free breakfast, a huge Bos Sport recovery area, Dan Hugo’s ButtaNutt spread served in recovery, a big beer tent, VIP areas, lots of vendors, and Total Sports, the official retailer, was personalizing race shirts with athletes’ name for 100 rand. Over 130 relay teams and 700 individuals on the day, and thousands more over the three days. It’s simply WORLD CLASS.”
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.”
For further information on the Fedhealth XTERRA South Africa Championship email entries [at] stillwatersports.com or visit www.stillwatersports.com. Direct media inquiries to Jacky McClean, chief contributor to this report, via e-mail to Jacky [at] newsportmedia.tv.
All-time XTERRA South Africa Elite Champions
Year - Men/Women
2004 - Conrad Stoltz/Megan Hall
2005 - Conrad Stoltz/Mari Rabie
2006 - Conrad Stoltz/Michelle Lombardi
2007 - Conrad Stoltz/Michelle Lombardi
2008 - Dan Hugo/Eszter Erdelyi
2009 - Lieuwe Boonstra & Felix Schumann/Carina Wasle
2010 - Dan Hugo/Mari Rabie
2011 - Dan Hugo/Carina Wasle
2012 - Conrad Stoltz/Carla Van Huyssteen
2013 - Richard Murray/Carla Van Huyssteen
2014 - Dan Hugo/Flora Duffy
2015 - Stuart Marais/Flora Duffy
2016 - Bradley Weiss/Flora Duffy
2017 - Richard Murray/Flora Duffy
2017 XTERRA World Championship Amateur Qualifiers
XTERRA South Africa was the first of 41 events where amateur athletes from around the world could qualify to race at the 22nd annual XTERRA World Championship at Kapalua, Maui on October 29. Here's a look at who punched their ticket to paradise today:
Female 19-24: Michelle KREBS, Paige BOTTEN; 25-29: Framke Boonzaaier, Zane COETZEE; 30-34: Johandri LEICESTER, Kate MUNNIK; 35-39: Sylvia VAN TROMP, Carol REEVES; 40-44: Aileen ANDERSON, Tessa KEERS; 45-49: Janet KEET, Birgit BOLLING; 50-54: Pauline LEITH, Lizl HOBSON; 55-59: Jacqui JACKSON. Male 19-24: Adriaan MYBURGH, Michael ROSS; 25-29: Janos DYLAN, Sebastian PAHL; 30-34: Matthew DANEEL, Gareth HARRINGTON, Jason REED; 35-39: Vernon VISSER, Marc PRICE, Trevor BAPTISTE; 40-44: Ralf FLETCHER, Shaun LUNT, Andrew ROWLES; 45-49: Phillipe VAN DER LEEUW, Gerrie BEUKES, Chris DE VILLIERS; 50-54: Douglas BURGER, Sean McCARTHY, Adam WHITTINGTON; 55-59: Frank SMUTS, Kevin DEWAR; 60-64: Dimmie DE MILANDER, Nic CLAASSEN; 65-69: Tim BRISCOE, Abel VAN DER MERWE.
2017 XTERRA World Championship Qualifying Series Schedule
|Date||Race||Elite Winners or Location|
|Feb 25||XTERRA South Africa||Richard Murray / Flora Duffy|
|Mar 4||XTERRA Motatapu||South Island, New Zealand|
|Mar 18||XTERRA Saipan + Silver||Northern Mariana Islands|
|Mar 25||XTERRA Argentina # Silver||Dique Ullum, San Juan|
|Apr 1||XTERRA Thailand + Silver||Phuket|
|Apr 1||XTERRA Chile # Silver||San Bernardo, Santiago|
|Apr 2||XTERRA Malta * Silver||Majjistral Nature Reserve|
|Apr 8||XTERRA New Zealand + Silver||Rotorua, North Island|
|Apr 9||XTERRA Costa Rica # Silver||Playa Reserva Conchal|
|Apr 16||XTERRA La Reunion||La Reunion Island|
|Apr 23||XTERRA Cyprus * Silver||Lara Beach/Akamas, Paphos|
|Apr 23||XTERRA Cebu + GOLD||Danao, Cebu, Philippines|
|Apr 29||XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship / Malaysia + GOLD||Langkawi, Malaysia|
|Apr 30||XTERRA Greece * Silver||Vouliagmeni|
|May 6||XTERRA Tahiti + Silver||Moorea|
|May 14||XTERRA Spain * Silver||Taragonna|
|May 14||XTERRA Brazil # Silver||Ilha Bella, Sao Paolo|
|May 20||XTERRA Oak Mountain # GOLD||Pelham, AL, USA|
|May 27||XTERRA Portugal * Silver||Golega|
|Jun 10||XTERRA Belgium * Silver||Namur|
|Jun 17||XTERRA Mine over Matter ^||Milton, Ontario, Canada|
|Jun 18||XTERRA Finland * Silver||Imatra|
|Jun 24||XTERRA Switzerland * GOLD||Vallee de Joux|
|Jul 2||XTERRA France * GOLD||Xonrupt|
|Jul 9||XTERRA Victoria # Silver||Victoria, B.C., Canada|
|Jul 15||XTERRA Beaver Creek # GOLD||Beaver Creek, CO, USA|
|Jul 30||XTERRA Abruzzo * Silver||Scanno, Abruzzo, Italy|
|Aug 5||XTERRA Mexico # GOLD||Tapalpa|
|Aug 5||XTERRA Norway * Silver||Norefjell|
|Aug 6||XTERRA Canmore ^||Canmore, Alberta, Canada|
|Aug 12||XTERRA Quebec ^||Quebec City, Canada|
|Aug 12||XTERRA Parry Sound ^||Ontario, Canada|
|Aug 13||XTERRA Dominican Republic # Silver||Barahona|
|Aug 13||XTERRA Poland * Silver||Krakow|
|Aug 19||XTERRA Germany * GOLD||Zittau|
|Aug 26||XTERRA Sweden * Silver||Hammarbybacken, Stockholm|
|Aug 26||XTERRA Sleeping Giant ^||Thunder Bay, ON, Canada|
|Sep 2||XTERRA Japan + Silver||Hokkaido|
|Sep 3||XTERRA European Championship / Denmark * GOLD||Mons Klint|
|Sep 16||XTERRA Pan American Championship / USA # D-GOLD||Ogden, Utah, USA|
|Oct 29||XTERRA World Championship||Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii|
* XTERRA European Tour / # XTERRA Pan American Tour / + Asia-Pacific Tour
Silver = Min. $7,500 pro purse & 75-point scale // GOLD = Min $15,000 pro purse & 100-point scale
About TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA
TEAM Unlimited LLC, founded in 1988, is the Hawaii-based television, events, and marketing company that brought off-road triathlon and trail running to the world under the brand name XTERRA. From a one-off race held on the most remote island chain in the world XTERRA evolved into an endurance sports lifestyle with worldwide appeal. Over the past 20 years XTERRA transcended its status as ‘just a race’ to become a bona-fide way of life for thousands of intrepid athletes as well as an emerging brand in the outdoor industry. In 2017 XTERRA will offer more than 200 off-road triathlons and trail running events in 33+ countries worldwide and produce 10 adventure television shows for international distribution. Learn more at xterraplanet.com.