There's no place like home for XTERRA star Dan Hugo as the 25-year-old won the eighth running of the XTERRA South Africa Championship at the Grabouw Country Club in the Western Province for the third time in four years today.
Hugo who's hometown of Stellebosch is less than an hour away from the course, finished the 1.5km swim, 25km mountain bike and 10km trail run in 2:15:30 - nearly four minutes ahead of runner-up Kent Horner.
Hugo, who picked up his first XTERRA championship win in Grabouw in 2008, also won here last year. The sports rising star now has six championships to his credit, including three on his home course, plus XTERRA Mexico and Brazil championships last year, and the XTERRA Northwest Cup in Idaho in 2009.
Hugo's biggest challenger on the day, four-time XTERRA World Champion Conrad Stoltz, pulled early due to illness. Stoltz spent much of the last few weeks laying low with bronchitis. ''Besides feeling very disappointed, Conrad is doing fine and in good spirits," said XTERRA SA communications director Jacky McClean.
According to Hugo winning on home ground in the company of family and friends is an awesome experience. "Today's event drew an epic crowed. I had a good swim, exiting the water a head of Conrad Stoltz. I pushed hard to ensure a smooth transition onto the mountain bike discipline, knowing that it wouldn't be long before Conrad closed in. I was saddened by the news of Conrad having to withdraw from the race due to illness, but that is the nature of the sport. I no longer had to push myself to the limit and just maintained a steady pace. The run discipline was great. Being welcomed home by the largest crowed that XTERRA Grabouw has ever attracted was just a memorable experience," said Hugo.
2011 XTERRA South Africa Championship Results:
Grabouw, Western Province, South Africa
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
|Dan Hugo (RSA)||2:15:30||
|Carina Wasle (AUT)||2:41:47|
|Kent Horner (RSA)||2:19:22||
|Michelle Lombardi (RSA)||2:44:59|
|Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER)||2:22:13||
|Carla Van Huyssteen (RSA)||2:46:55|
|Lieuwe Boonstra (RSA)||2:26:31||
|Susan Sloan (RSA)||2:50:57|
|Justin Porteous (RSA)||2:26:34||
|Tanya Rabie (RSA)||3:05:53|
In the women's race Austrian XTERRA standout Carina "Ini" Wasle won the XTERRA South Africa Championship for the second time in three years, having also won in 2009. The victory marked a terrific start to an early season XTERRA World Tour adventure that will take her to the inaugural XTERRA Philippines Championship next week, and the XTERRA Saipan Championship the week after.
Wasle now has seven XTERRA championship wins to her credit since winning her first of three XTERRA Germany titles back in 2005, she also has two XTERRA Czech Championships.
"I had a very good race today," said Wasle. "After a great swim, I exited the water in second place behind Carla van Huyssteen. Managing to catch her within the first 5km of the mountain bike discipline, I kept a steady pace and basically lead until the finish. I enjoyed the run discipline the most as it included a lot of up-hill running. The DUESOUTH XTERRA Grabouw is one of my favourite events. It features extremely beautiful landscapes, while the people are really friendly. I am definitely going to try my best to be back next year."
For the second straight year Michelle Lombardi came in second, while Carla van Huyssteen finished third.
2011 marks the eighth year of XTERRA racing in South Africa, and its growth has been nothing short of remarkable. From a single event in 2004, Michael Meyer, the director of Stillwater Sport & Entertainment, has built XTERRA into a lifestyle sports juggernaut with thousands of competitors, six big events, a dozen TV shows, major media coverage, and some of the sports' biggest stars.
Photo credit: Hendrik Steytler