12 Namibians Take On the Ultimate Challenge

A Group of 12 Namibian triathletes leave for Port Elizabeth in South Africa to compete in Ironman South Africa on Sunday, most probably the toughest one-day sporting event in the world.

Athletes have to complete a 3.8km swim, 180,2km cycle and 42,2km run within the cut-off time of 17 hours in the event which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

The event has grown considerably over the past 10 years, from 804 entrants in 2004 to 2378 for this year’s event. This year’s event, in fact, was sold out for the first time and the organisers had to change the course to accommodate more participants. The event has also extremely popular over the years and more than 80 000 spectators are expected to line the route and cheer the athletes on at Sunday’s race.

The Namibian team is largely inexperienced, with only five triathletes having competed there before.

Cheryl Young, who has competed at Ironman SA on six occasions, is the most experienced and successful, having previously qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, as an age group winner.

Archie Graham and Johann Mouton have each participated twice before, while David Weber and Wynand Dreyer have each competed once at SA Ironman.

For Johan Vosloo, Bertha Theron, Barbara Ackerman, Adele de la Rey, Geon Ellis and the husband and wife pair of Richard and Antje Tietz it will however be the first time to compete at an Ironman event.

One of the first-timers, Geon Ellis, incredibly only started the sport seven months ago after being inspired by compatriot Wynand Dreyer.

“We both attended a boot camp in April last year where we had to do Pole PT, jogging 4km with tar poles and Wynand was quite phenomenal. He said he had done the Ironman before and this is where the seed was planted. On the spur of the moment I decided that if he can do it, I can also do it, so I started training for the event,” he said.

“I hadn’t done anything for 20 years but started training in May last year. I bought my first bicycle since I was at school and when I started swimming I couldn’t swim two laps, but I was determined to do this, while Cheryl (Young) also helped me with my training,” he added.

As a triathlete, Ellis had to go on a rigorous training regime of about 20 hours per week, but he said it has been well worthwhile.

“Now seven months later I’m so glad that I took that decision. I’ve lost 14kg, I’m fit, and my family are also into the sport, exercising and living a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Regarding Sunday’s Ironman, he said he couldn’t wait for the event to start.

“The adrenalin is picking up and I’m getting excited. The Ironman must come now, it’s been a long and tough road, but we are all looking forward to doing well,” he said.

Source : The Namibian