Yoliswa Sobuwa and Shaanaaz de Jager
THE gloomy wintry weather of the past few days is expected to give way to some sunshine as thousands of triathletes descend on Nelson Mandela Bay for the Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa competition this weekend.
The athletes will, however, have to contend with choppy seas during the 3.8km swim – the first of the three races in the triathlon.
The main event on Sunday has attracted a record 1783 athletes from around the world, up from last year’s 1776. They are among the more than 6000 expected to participate in other Ironman-related events at the weekend.
Port Elizabeth Weather Office spokesman Garth Sampson said the weather looked “fine” for the weekend, with winds of up to 20km and temperatures of between 21°C and 24°C.
Ironman spokeswoman Lisa Moore said they were happy with the weather predictions. “The only problem would be if there was rain, but at this point things are going as planned as there is no rain predicted.
“Many athletes have said they would be happy to not have to cycle into a strong wind,” Moore said.
Meanwhile, bed and breakfast establishments in Port Elizabeth are nearly fully booked. Port Elizabeth Metro Bed and Breakfast Association chairwoman Shena Wilmot said accommodation establishments were “nearly full” in Summerstrand and Humewood areas, with “only a few places having space”.
“I have not seen an account of how many establishments are fully booked but it is nearly the same as last year,” Wilmot said.
The Spec-Savers Ironman SA 2013 is an official qualifying race for the Ironman World Championships on October 12 in Kona, Hawaii.
Sunday’s race starts with a 3.8km swim from Hobie Beach at 6.45am, followed by the age group swim start at 7am. The first male athlete is expected to cross the finish line at about 3pm, and the first female at about 3.45pm.
By then, athletes would have covered 226.2km – 180.2km by bicycle, and a 42.2km marathon.
Ironman SA race director Paul Wolff said the competition would be tough, with foreign athletes making up nearly a quarter of the field. “The pace will be set by the 47 professional athletes participating in the race,” he said.
Other events include the Iron Girl South Africa Fun Run starting at Hobie Beach at 4pm tomorrow, and the Vodacom Corporate Triathlon Challenge at 7.50am and the Pritt Ironkids SA at noon on Saturday.
Wolff said all the safety and security precautions were in place. See Back Page