Africa’s biggest standard distance triathlon had some real local flavour this year with Bela Bela local Wian Sullwald (RSA) winning the men’s race with an efficient display clocking a time of 01:56:42 – a new course record. Andrea Steyn (RSA) made it a second consecutive victory winning comfortably in a time of 02:11:48, also a new course record.

Sullwald shows the way
The third edition of the popular standard distance triathlon saw record entry numbers and a well balanced professional field showcasing both strong short and longer distance athletes. A warm and humid day in Bela Bela brought out the best in the pro field with some fast racing. Sullwald took an early lead on the swim before the second lap with Rudolf Naude (RSA) on his feet. The pair created a good gap between themselves and the rest of the field. Sullwald exited the water first followed by Naude and Kent Horner. Wikus Weber (RSA), Travis Johnston (RSA), Michael Davidson (RSA) and
Gerhard De Bruin (RSA) made up the bulk coming into T1.

The bike course is what athletes traditionally find toughest at the 5150 Bela Bela Triathlon. Sullwald held his own leading out of T1 to maintain his lead to be the first athlete into T2 and head out onto the run. While Sullwald remained constant, there was movement on the bike course with Johnston making his way up the field passing Naude and Kent Horner to enter T2 in second place. Wikus Weber entered T2 in third before setting off on his run. The top three were followed by Rudolf Naude, defending champion, Horner and Gerhard de Bruin setting up an exciting run leg.

With the experienced Johnston a minute a behind, Sullwald again showed the composure that saw him crowned Junior World Champion last year. The youngest professional athlete in the field produced a record breaking performance on home soil to run to his first 5150 Bela Bela Triathlon title in a time of 01:56:42. The 2011 champion, Travis Johnston could not manage to dislodge the steady Sullwald and finished in second place in 01:57:19. Wikus Weber finished in third place nearly three minutes behind the top two with a time of 01:59:50.

Steyn makes it two in a row
Andrea Steyn (RSA) once again showed her class in a strong pro ladies field needing to bide her time for the win. With the names in the line up the swim went according to expectation with 2011 champion, Lucie Reed (CZE) exiting the water in first place. The Czech was followed into T1 by Riana Robertson (RSA) a little way off and Corinne Berg (RSA) in third. Coming out of the water to make up the rest of the top ladies was Steyn, Claire Horner (RSA) and last year’s runner-up, Lauren Dance (RSA).

The early swim leaders were unable to maintain the lead as the likes of Steyn, Dance and Horner made their way up the field. Dance moved up the field to enter T2 in first place. After finishing second both in 2011 and 2012, she was determined to make 2013 her year. Steyn, who entered T2 in second place, had other ideas as she set off on her run. Last year’s third place finisher, Claire Horner, was third onto the run. It seemed as though it would be a straight shootout from last year’s top three. Robertson and Reed made up the top five onto the run.

A battle between Dance and Steyn emerged on the run with the latter getting the better of the exchange early into the run course. Once Steyn hit the lead there was never going to be any other outcome as she ran to her second consecutive 5150 Bela Bela Triathlon title breaking her own course record with a time of 02:11:48. For the third year running, Dance notched up an impressive second place in a time of 02:14:11 while Reed brought up the final podium spot with an exciting sprint finish to edge Claire Horner in an overall time of 02:16:44.

Provisional Results:
Top 5 men:
1. Wian Sullwald (RSA) 01:56:42
2. Travis Johnston (RSA) 01:57:19
3. Wikus Weber (RSA) 01:59:50
4. Rudolf Naude 02:00:14
5. Michael Davidson (RSA) 02:00:45
Top 5 women:
1: Andrea Steyn (RSA) 02:11:48
2. Lauren Dance (RSA) 02:14:11
3. Lucie Reed (CZE) 02:16:44
4. Claire Horner (RSA) 02:16:45
5. Riana Robertson (RSA) 02:19:02

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