South African multisport sensations Dan Hugo and Mari Rabie dominated the pro races at the XTERRA South Africa Championship in Grabouw on Saturday and some 34 slots to the XTERRA World Championship in Maui were awarded to the top age groupers in each division.
Some 1,300 racers took part in the championship race the comprised a 1.5km swim, 25km MTB route and 10km trail run and the half-distance XTERRA Lite race.
"I can only imagine New Zealand and Brazil being able to match the XTERRA turnout this weekend," said Hugo. "Stillwater Sports - management responsible for XTERRA South Africa - closed entries on Monday at 1,300 entrants! I am so blown and proud to be a part of the XTERRA community here."
Hugo finished more than seven minutes ahead of countryman Kent Horner in the men's race while Rabie crossed the line exactly 11 minutes ahead of 2006/2007 RSA Champ Michelle Lombardi.
2010 XTERRA South Africa Championships Results:
|Pro Men Results||Pro Women Results|
|1 - Dan Hugo (RSA)||2:22:29||1 - Mari Rabie (RSA)||2:47:17|
|2 - Kent Horner (RSA)||2:29:38||2 - Michelle Lombardi (RSA)||2:58:17|
|3 - Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER)||2:31:46||3 - Hanlie Booyens (RSA)||3:11:02|
|4 - Rob Woestenborghs (RSA)||2:41:31||4 - Amber Monforte (USA)||3:16:24|
|5 - Justin Porteous (RSA)||2:44:43||5 - Jane Seggie (RSA)||3:25:08|
For Hugo, whose 2009 XTERRA season was cut short after suffering through weeks of a severe flu (he missed the USA and World Championships), the victory was oh so sweet.
"I wanted this one. I needed this one," Hugo wrote in his race recap at dghugo.com.
It's the second XTERRA RSA crown for Hugo, who also won here in 2008. According to Hugo, the course was extremely testing. "Kent Horner was approximately 30 seconds ahead of me out of the swim and onto the mountain bike leg. This gave me the perfect opportunity to see his condition. I managed to catch up with him and made my move on a steep climb where we were both pushing our bikes. I hopped onto mine before him and just kept peddling. I only realized 10 minutes later when I looked over my shoulder that I had managed to open a sizable gap. The mountain bike route was an awesome combination of cross country and marathon racing. The extreme heat, however, made it impossible to push myself to the max. The run leg was classic and you definitely needed to prepare yourself mentally for it. Racing on my home turf does have an advantage with all the supporters knowing who I am and screaming my name. This carries you through the tough times. It's amazing to see how the XTERRA has grown," says Hugo who crossed the finish line in an impressive time of 2:22:29. Kent Horner came in second, while Nico Pfitzenmaier finished third.
In the women's race the incredible Mari Rabie (incredible because the 24-year-old represented RSA at the Beijing Olympics, won the RSA Ironman 70.3 last month, and earned a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University in England) wowed the crowd when she crossed the finish line in an awe-inspiring time of 2:47:17.
According to Rabie the race started off on a stressful note. "Five minutes before the swim I realized that my mountain bike had a puncture, but luckily my dad was there to fix it. I did, however, have a really good swim and managed to keep up with Dan Hugo. Going onto the mountain bike route I was worried about Carina Wasle and was really surprised when I managed to pull away from her. The heat definitely added a new dimension to the race, but it was in my favor as I thrive in extreme conditions. I felt good on the running discipline and was really pleased with my performance today. It was nice to see how the XTERRA has grown since I last competed in Grabouw in 2005," says Rabie. Michelle Lombardi came in second, while Hanlie Booyens finished third. Amber Monforte, former XTERRA pro and 2009 ultraman Canada champion/record-holder, placed fourth.
Of note, three-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad "the Caveman" Stoltz was in attendance and cheering on Amber and his fellow countryman, but not racing because ... "Saving it for the US season. Gonna be a big one."