Matt Trautman and Annah Watkinson raced to victory in the 2021 Race2Stanford, presented by SEESA, on Saturday 24 April. Both set course records for the challenging 113-kilomtre (70.3-mile) route, which started in Hermanus and finished in the nearby village of Stanford. Pristine weather, on the early Autumn day, made for perfect racing conditions allowing elite and age group triathletes alike to push for personal best times.
As the warm sun rose over the breathlessly calm ocean, in Walker Bay, 250 brave athletes swam out into the turquoise New Harbour. A 1 900-metre swim course was the first leg of one of the most gruelling and beautiful ultra-distance triathlons on the African continent. Trautman was quick to establish his dominance leading the field out of the water.
The multiple South African and Ironman champion led, Durban based open water ace, Gareth Dias and young, Port Elizabeth, professional Keegan Cooke onto the bike. Despite the chasers’ best efforts Trautman’s lead grew throughout the bike and run legs. The now three-time Race2Stanford, presented by SEESA, champion was imperious on the now infamous La Vierge and Shaws Pass climbs; though these provided a massive challenge to the age groupers on the bike leg. He then ran home to claim victory in a time of 4 hours, 17 minutes and 14 seconds.
In the women’s race the cool but wind-still conditions set Watkinson up for the day’s fastest bike and run legs. The eventual winner had to reel in Sylvia Van Tromp, who had led out of the water, before blitzing the bike course which ascends through the Hemel en Aarde Valley, heading towards Stanford via Caledon and the Akkedisberg Pass. With the course record in her sight Watkinson’s pace never faltered on the run, around the scenic streets and quiet footpaths of Stanford. Her winning time was an impressive 5 hours and 59 seconds.
Behind the race winners the 4 lap, 21.1-kilometre, run course kept the age groupers entertained and motivated throughout. After the challenging bike the ever-changing scenery of the ‘wandlepad’ tour of Stanford rewarded with music, hydration and nutrition on the village green as well as moments of quiet serenity interrupted only by birdsong on the path along the Klein River. On the finish line triathletes laughed, most from joy and some fighting back tears of relief, as they collapsed, exhausted, onto the grass.
Almost to a competitor they acknowledged that the Race2Stanford, presented by SEESA, was “brutal but beautiful!”. An honest challenge for those who love to test their limits in the great outdoors. Regardless of whether they finished in a record breaking 4 hours 17 or a personal barrier breaking 10 hours and 10 minutes.
“Listening to post race athlete feedback we are elated that our dream of creating the most honest, beautiful and toughest ultra-distance triathlon in Africa is fast becoming a reality” enthused event organiser Paul Ingpen. “We aim to make the Race2Stanford, presented by SEESA, the Challenge Roth of the Southern hemisphere.”
2021 Race2Stanford, presented by SEESA, Results
- Matt Trautman (04:17:14)
- James McCallum (04:31:08 | +13:54)
- Keegan Cooke (04:33:37 | +16:23)
- Annah Watkinson (05:00:59)
- Liza Visser (05:29:11 | +28:12)
- Marga Janse van Rensburg (05:31:10 | +30:11)