Shandor off to IRONMAN World Champs

Shandor at the Isuzu IRONMAN Africa Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Shandor Potgieter has secured his place at the VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand this December after a rocky journey at the IRONMAN event in Durban.

Overcoming illness and equipment mishaps, Potgieter’s determination has pushed him to the international stage. Five weeks prior, Potgieter competed in the Ironman event in Nelson Mandela Bay, delivering a commendable performance. However, his approach to Durban was markedly different.

“I wanted to go and burn all my matches,” he said. His preparation faced a significant hurdle when he fell ill two weeks before the race, jeopardising his participation.

“I was scared that I wasn’t going to get cleared for the race,” Potgieter added.

As if illness wasn’t enough, on his drive to Durban, strong winds dislodged his bicycle from his vehicle on the N1, causing significant damage.

Potgieter contacted Enduroplanet in Bloemfontein and they arranged for immediate repairs upon his arrival in Durban.

Shandor at the Isuzu IRONMAN event in Durban. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“These guys literally took my bike out of my hands and had it fixed and raceready in 15 minutes,” he said.

On race day Potgieter felt strong during the swim and improved his cycling time by half an hour. However, the intense heat led to severe dehydration during the run, causing cramps. “My estimated sweat loss on the run was more than 7000 millilitres,” he noted.

Despite these challenges, Potgieter finished strong. Attending the awards dinner post-race, he was thrilled to hear his name called, securing him a spot at the World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand. The event takes place from 14 to 15 December.

Before heading to New Zealand, Potgieter plans to compete in the IRONMAN event in Mossel Bay on 17 November, a crucial preparation race.

“There are so many unexpected things that happen,” he said. “But ultimately, it’s how badly you want something that determines your outcome.”

As Potgieter prepares for the World Championships, he remains focused on representing South Africa with pride.

“It’s about going out, soaking up the entire experience, and flying the flag for South Africa,” he said.

Justine Fortuin