Swakopmund — This weekend sees the cream of local and international triathletes back in action for the 26th edition of the FNB Desert Triathlon, which gets underway in Swakopmund on Sunday.
The race is hosted by Otb Sport, sponsored by FNB Namibia while Puma is the technical sponsor of the annual event.
Event organizers Otb Sport are expecting a number of competitive South African triathletes in the ultra event, which consists of a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21km run.
Defending champion veteran Namibian triathlete Paddy Murphy will have to dig extra deep to stay ahead of the pack.
From SA is the legendary triathlete Glen Gore - 12 x SA Elite Champion, winner of the Swakop Triathlon in 1997 and incumbent coach and manager of ASG Pro Team.
Gore said: "Although I do triathlon more for fun these days than to win, I still race as hard as I can each time I line up for an event."
Bradley Venter, from SA, another top SA elite athlete will join Gore in the ultra event, while another favourite is Raoul de Jongh, who was overall SA amateur this year of the IM 70.3, as well as the IM and the Xterra. He was also the first South African to qualify for all three world championships associated with those events.
Also from SA is 2008 winner of the FNB Desert Triathlon, Gerhard de Bruin and his girlfriend, Corrina Berg, a favourite in the female ultra category.
"Namibia has a limited market for triathletes, that's why it's essential to grow the event beyond Namibia's borders if we want to make this event one of the prime sports events on the Namibian coast. International competition is excellent for our local triathletes," reads a statement from the event organizers.
The race takes place at the popular Mole beach in Swakopmund and starts with a sea swim of 400m, 1200m and 1900m to be followed by the bike route that heads straight to the C34 desert road.
The cycle route is 20km, 40km or 90km depending on the category. The run starts at the Mole and is a figure-8 loop run along the beach to the Tiger Reef and back past the start-out to Vineta. The distance of a loop is 7km. Competitors will do the 4km, 10km or 21km depending on the race category entered.
There will be N$37 000 worth of prizes distributed that will see the winners in the competitive ultra male category walking away with cash prizes of N$4 000, N$3 000 and N$2 000 for the first three finishers. There will also be a combination of cash prizes and Otb vouchers in other categories, with the first 200-odd entries receiving Puma running shirts.
Besides the historical ultra event, there are two other events - the standard distance (1km swim; 40km bike; 10km run) and the sprint (400m swim; 20km bike; 4km run). Participants have the option of doing the event as individuals or in teams.