Drew Williams and Rebecca Duncan both exceeded expectations to complete the Mandela Day Triathlon at Midmar Dam in South Africa today (29 August 2015) in strong second place finishes. Williams, a student at St John’s College, finished this steep, hilly and challenging course, which consisted of a 600m swim in the dam, a 20 km bike ride and a 5 km run, with a time of 1:07:33 to come 2nd amongst the men. Duncan, an A level student at Chisipite Senior School, came second for women, finishing the triathlon in 1:17:20.
One major difference about this triathlon was the mass start, where all 89 competitors, regardless of gender or category, began the swim together. Williams was second coming out of the water to the first transition area and stayed as part of a lead trio for most of the race. Coming out of the second biking segment, he was neck and neck with the leader, so all came down to the run. Ben De La Porte of South Africa, took a narrow lead with 2 kilometers of the run remaining, and went on to win the race, finishing just a few meters ahead of Williams.
Duncan also showed a consistently strong race. Her biking segment was particularly impressive, where she moved from 5th to 3rd place, which enabled her with a push after the second transition to gain her second place position through the run to the finish.
Both Williams and Duncan travelled with coach Pam Fulton to South Africa for this competition as preparation for the World Triathlon Championships which take place 15-19 September in Chicago, Illinois.
In an interview with SSN shortly after the race, Williams was visibly excited: “It was an amazing race, and great prep for World Champs. Back to training tomorrow; the hard work for Worlds is nearly over, just a little fine tuning of the machine. This race has really helped me get back into the mode of racing and gave me what to expect at Worlds, another rung in the ladder taking me to new heights.”