Three doctors from Bloemfontein proved at the Spur SA age group sprint triathlon championships, which was staged at Maselspoort in Bloemfontein on Sunday, that it is possible to make time in their busy schedules to take part in this multisport discipline at national level and still be among the best in the country.
These medical doctors, Nicolas Theron, and Cobus Louw swam (750 m), cycled (20 km) and ran (5 km) to top the podium in their respective age groups, whilst Jaco Cilliers, a medical doctor as well, pocketed the silver medal in his age group.
More than 100 participants from all over the rainbow nation rocked up for this well-organised event by Triathlon Free State.
Theron, a former Springbok senior biathlete (running and swimming) was one of the best performers of the meeting and reigned supreme by more than two minutes in the 50 to 54 years age category when he broke the tape in 1:12:02. His time was the seventh best of the entire meeting and that includes participants in age groups ranging from 20 to 69 years.
He left second-placed Neil Collett (1:14:24) well in his wake, whilst Johann de Villiers (1:1:17:06) had to settle for a distant third.
Unlike Theron, Louw (45 to 49 years) was in a mini-war with Marc Corker, but the gutsy Free Stater eventually got the better of Corker by a mere 15 seconds. Louw clocked 1:16:37 and Corker 1:16:52. Deon Schulenburg was not far off the pace either with his third-place time of 1:17:38, thus turning this event into one of the most exciting battles of the championships.
Cilliers, who bumped heads in the 40 to 44 years age group, took second place for the Free State with a time of 1:12:06. He was comfortably beaten by one of the best triathlon age groupers in the country, Tiaan Rossouw, who stopped the watches at an excellent 1:06:20.
The tall and lean Daniel Dos Santos ensured that the Free State men kept three championship titles in Central South Africa by scoring a runaway victory in the age group of 35 to 39 years. He recorded a respectable time of 1:15:01, leaving the silver medallist, Pieter Celliers (1:19:09), grasping for the thin high altitude air of the City of Roses more than four minutes adrift.
The fairer sex of Bloemfontein made their mark as well with Rika Vermaas and Lynette Fischer winning gold for the Free State.
Vermaas (55 to 59 years) was on the warpath and although she climbed out of the water close to two minutes behind Elizma Geldenhuys, she closed the gap in the cycling leg to start the run just behind Geldenhuys. The sparks started to fly during the running leg with Vermaas running Geldenhuys to pieces. She recorded a 24:28 for the 5 km run and Geldenhuys could only manage 26:59 on the run.
Vermaas eventually hung gold around her neck in a total time of 1:22:49. Geldenhuys must have thought a hurricane had passed her and had to be content with second (2:25:19) and way off Vermaas’ pace.
Fischer, in turn, was as good as always. Although she had no other competitors in her age group (60 to 64 years), she still recorded a more than respectable time of 1:28:44. To put it in perspective, Fischer would have beaten the winner (1:36:27) of the age group 50 to 54 years by close to eight minutes.