-Caroline Bankart

Benguela Cove hosted a stunning series of triathlon-inspired races this past weekend. Organised by Trisport, the events included a night-time trail run, early morning swim, a day trail run, and a night mountain bike trail.

The wind was kind enough to let up a bit on Friday 27th in time for the first trail run, which started just before the sun began to set. Runners of the 5.5km trail run were treated to a blazing sunset as they ran through vineyards and along the beach of the Benguela Cove Wine Estate. The 5.5km trail run was a family-won race, as the first young man across the line was Ludrich Groenewald (in 22 minutes and 43 seconds), and the first girl to finish, only seven seconds later, was his sister, Danelle Groenewald.

The 9km trail runners started at the same time, but only crossed the line once the sun had finished setting. Friends and family watched from Benguela’s clubhouse as headlamps bobbed along the beach, lighting the way for the athletes as they completed the last stretch towards the finish. Justin Swarts was first to arrive (in 38 minutes and 6 seconds), with the leading lady, Kirsty Thompson, coming in four minutes later.

After an evening of good wine and hot soup, everybody got some rest before coming back for a very early swim on Saturday morning. This time, the weather wasn’t as friendly, and swimmers had a tough start heading out against choppy water and gusty winds. The first man to finish the 600m swim was Darren Wiehahn (in 12 minutes and 43 seconds) and the first lady was Antoinette Colic (13 minutes 25 seconds).

Those who did the 2km swim were watched carefully by the Life Guards from Big Bay Events as they did four laps from buoy to buoy before leaving the water to collect their medals. Jaun Paul Trostee finished first (in 34 minutes), and the first lady, Kirsty Thompson, was greeted by her relieved Great Dane almost four minutes later (37 minutes 43 seconds).

Later that morning, trail runners enjoyed the same route from the previous night, but in full morning sunlight. The Groenewald siblings took first place again in the 5.5km trail run (Ludrich finished in 22 minutes 29 seconds, and Danelle finished in 23 minutes 15 seconds), while the 9km race was won by Derek de Vries (37 minutes 2 seconds) and Corlene Conradie (44 minutes 14 seconds).

On Saturday evening, cyclists prepared themselves for a night mountain bike race that started at sunset. Those cycling the 9km trail made it back before it got too dark, with Kirsty Thompson finishing first (in 25 minutes 36 seconds), and the leading gent, Andrew Garamis, finishing in 26 minutes 58 seconds. The athletes who pushed on for three more laps, doing 36km in total, finished long after the sun had gone down. Using his headlamp to guide him, Karsten Wellner was the first to whizz past the finish line after one hour and forty minutes.

Athletes from all four races were awarded fantastic prizes sponsored by Benguela Cove and De Zeekoe Guest Farm. This weekend’s events were a fun, relaxed prelude to next February’s triathlon event, which will be hosted on Benguela’s beautiful wine estate once more.

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