Namibia: Burger, Dreyer Reign Supreme

NAMIBIA took the top honours at the Africa Duathlon Championships on Sunday with Jean Paul Burger and Risa Dreyer winning the men and women's elite titles.

Burger completed the standard triathlon in a time of one hour 51 minutes 57 seconds, to finish more than four minutes ahead of Dylan Kruger of South Africa, while another South African, Jonathan Benjamin came third in 1:56:41.

They were followed by several Kenyans, with James Mwaura coming fourth in 2:07:13 and Gabriel Ambuko fifth in 2:15:30.

Competing in intense heat in Windhoek's city centre, Namibia's Divan du Plooy took an early lead on the first 10km running leg, opening up a gap of close to two minutes at the transition to the cycling leg.

Burger, however, started to haul him in on the 40km cycling leg and took the lead after the first of the six cycling laps. He extended his lead to close to five minutes at the end of the cycling leg, and going into the final 5km running leg, Du Plooy withdrew from exhaustion.

The South Africans, Kruger and Benjamin, meanwhile, moved up the field to finish second and third, but Burger was never threatened as he completed a commanding victory.

Afterwards, Burger said it was a tough race.

"They predicted a cold front so we expected 23 to 24 degrees, but it wasn't the case, it felt like 33 or 43 degrees out there," he said.

"On the first run I just survived, I know the bike is my strong point so I said if I can keep the gap below two minutes then I'll be happy, and I actually didn't lose any time on the first 5km, and then probably about a minute on the second five so it was still within the limit," he added.

"I caught the first guy on the second lap of the cycling leg and then opened up a four and a half minute lead which is nice because I didn't have to push that hard on the last run and thats the one that really kills you," he said.

By winning the African title, Burger automatically qualified for the World Duathlon Championships which take place in Spain next month, but he said he will not be able to afford it.

"It would be nice to go to the world champs, but unfortunately I'm working now and it's too expensive. I know because I tried to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, but there are no sponsors, so it's out of your own or your parents' pockets. It costs about N$30 000 for the trip and at the moment I just can't justify that, I have other priorities, so no, this is my last race for now, I'll see, maybe I'll do next year's world champs," he said.

Dreyer, meanwhile, dominated the elite women's category from the start and went on to win in 2:15:28, finishing more than nine minutes ahead of compatriot Benita Kasch (2:24:42), while another Namibian, Anri Krugel came third in 2:29:13.

They were followed by Adele de la Rey of Namibia (2:30:54), Lelanie Swart of Namibia (2:42:12) and Evalyne Mwenda of Kenya (3:03:09).

More than 130 duathletes competed in various categories at the African Championships, with most coming from Namibia, while there were also athletes from South Africa and Kenya.

Konrad Marais of South Africa won the Standard Senior Duathlon in 2:06:24, followed by Joshua Roberts of Namibia (2:17:04) and JF Labuschagne of Namibia (2:18:53), while Drikus Coetzee of Namibia (56:35) and Elne Owen of South Africa (1:15:08) won the men and women's Sprint Duathlon titles.

Johannes van der Westhuizen of Namibia won the Junior Boys Sprint Duathlon in 1:02:57, while Nadya Stolarczyk of South Africa won the Junior Girls Sprint Duathlon in 1:10:49.

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