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Cup wins for SA duo

By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s two All Africa Games triathlon champions were at it again at the weekend, this time up north in Zimbabwe at the ITU Troutbeck African Cup in Nyanga.

And the two were both victorious again, Erhard Wolfaardt and Carlyn Fischer bringing back gold medals for their efforts.

Potchefstroom’s Wolfaardt clocked two hours three minutes and 23 seconds for a comfortable two-minute win over fellow South African Rudolf Naude. Johannesburg based Zimbabwean Chris Felgate took the bronze medal in 2:07:49.

Said Wolfaardt: “It’s an awesome event and I have done it every year for the past four years, and won it each time, so it is a special event on my calendar. It is one of the best organised events in the world and the people there are so friendly and helpful, plus the venue is beautiful.

“Having done the race a couple of times before I knew exactly what to expect and what to do to win it. My race plan was simple; Swim with whoever was in the front group, make sure I have a lead off the bike, and just run to win.

“I managed a good swim with lead group of four including myself, Rudolf Naude, Chris Felgate and Valerie de Valbaire of Mauritius.

“I love the bike course in Troutbeck as it is very hilly and there is really nowhere to hide the pack. After the second lap it was only Rudolf who could stick to the pace so I decided to work with him for next few laps. Eventually I got a few seconds lead going into the tough 10km run, turned on my auto-pilot and managed to secure another good win.

“Next weekend my focus turns on the Pretoria Tswane African Cup, before heading into the Final of the BSG series in Vanderbijlpark on 4 December.”

In the women’s race Fischer, currently enjoying a rich vein of form, beat defending champion Fabienne St Louis of Mauritius to win in 2:33:11, a second shy of a one-minute victory margin.

It was Fischer’s first trip to Zimbabwe and she’ll have fond memories after her victory. “The race was set in a mountainous area, with six laps of a hilly technical bike course climbing up to 2200 metres above sea level. The run course consisted of a 600m hill and 200m hill on each of the four laps.

“As we started the swim in the clear fresh water lake, I could feel the altitude constrict my breathing but I got my rhythm going by the first buoy and started pushing the pace. Fabienne St Louis from Mauritius was right on my feet. I managed to make a small gap and headed into T1 with a few seconds lead.

“The foot of the hill started at the mount line, not leaving any time to get my feet into my shoes. The sun was blazing and the headwind on the downhills meant working just as hard going down as going up, and left no room for recovery after the hills. I felt strong on the bike, knowing my prayers had worked! I lead most of the way on the bike, making a few breaks up the hills, but Fabienne being a strong biker stuck to my wheel.”

Fischer recently finished ninth in a World Cup event in Colombia and came back to end second to Andrea Steyn in the Midmar leg of the BSG-Energade Series and decided to make an early break in the final running leg of the event. “I pushed hard up the first hill and on the turn I saw that I had made a small gap on second place. I continued to gradually stretch out my lead.

“The sun was scorching my back and arms and I took two water sachets per lap to cool myself off and hydrate. The hills meant I could not keep a consistent rhythm going but as I entered the finish chute, I saw the finish banner stretched across the line. I grabbed it with both arms and lifted it with joy.”

The Zimbabwe win gave Fischer a welcome 200 ITU points and she has now moved up to 88th on the ITU ranking list. ” I have another ITU event next weekend, followed by a local race to keep me fit for my final ITU event in December.”