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Dan, Mari take titles

Local athletes took the spoils at the finals of the Duesouth Xterra finals in Grabouw at the weekend.

Multi-sport specialists Dan Hugo and Mari Rabie won the three-sport event on a day when soaring temperatures made the event all the tougher.

Hugo crossed the finish line in 2hr 22min 29sec after completing a 1.5 kilometre swim, 25km mountain bike route and wrapping things up with a 10km trail run.

“The course was extremely testing,” said Hugo.┬á ÔÇ£Instead of swimming two laps of 750m each, we swam one lap of 1.5km. This definitely favours the serious swimmers as it is more tiring and doesn’t give athletes the opportunity to catch their breaths.┬áKent Horner was approximately 30 seconds ahead of me out of the swim and onto the mountain bike leg.

“This gave me the perfect opportunity to see his condition. I managed to catch up with him and made my move on a steep climb where we were both pushing our bikes.┬áI hopped onto mine before him and just kept peddling.

“I only realised 10 minutes later when I looked over my shoulder that I had managed to open a sizeable gap.┬á The mountain bike route was an awesome combination of cross country and marathon racing.┬áThe extreme heat, however, made it impossible to push myself to the max.

“The run leg was classic and you definitely needed to prepare yourself mentally for it.┬áRacing on my home turf does have an advantage with all the supporters knowing who I am and screaming my name.┬áThis carries you through the tough times.┬áI must say it’s amazing to see how the Xterra has grown,ÔÇØ he said.

Kent Horner came in second (2:29:38), while Nico Pfitzenmaier (Germany) finished third in 2:31:46.

Another home town favourite, Rabie wowed the crowd when she crossed the finish line in an excellent 2:47:17.

According to Rabie, the race started off on a stressful note. ÔÇ£Five minutes before the swim I realised that my mountain bike had a puncture, but luckily my dad was there to fix it.┬áI did, however, have a really good swim and even managed to keep up with Dan Hugo.

“Going onto the mountain bike route I was worried about Austrian Carina Wasle (defending champion) and was really surprised when I managed to pull away from her.

“The heat definitely added a new dimension to the race, but it was in my favour as I thrive in extreme conditions. I felt good during the running discipline and was really pleased with my performance today.┬áIt was nice to see how the XTERRA has grown since I last competed in Grabouw in 2005,ÔÇØ says Rabie.

Michelle Lombardi came in second (2:58:17) while Hanlie Booyens finished third in 3:11:02.

Held in conjunction with the main event was the Xterra Lite which involved a 400m swim, 12km MTB route and 5km trail run. The men’s category went to Antoine van Heerden in a time of 1:05:58 while Iron Man competitor Carole Messham took the women’s title in 1:19:29.

The new Xterra season gets underway at the Pezula Private Estate in Knysna on July 8, 2010.