Namibia’s top triathlete Jean-Paul Burger and Stellenbosch triathlon coach Vicky van der Merwe dominated the HI-TEC Walkerbay Xtreme this past weekend, after winning the majority of the multi-sport festival’s premier events between 29 April and 1 May.
They participated in the Big 6 Xtreme – the only competition of its kind in South Africa – in which athletes were challenged to complete six of the Walkerbay Xtreme’s premier events over the course of three days: 18km Cliffpath Xtreme road run, 17km Blue Mountain Xtreme trail run, Urban Xtreme mountain bike criterium, Open Water Xtreme 2.5km open water swim, Walkerbay Xtreme sprint triathlon, as well as the Sea & Sand Xtreme swim-run-jump challenge.
Jean-Paul Burger dominated the men’s division from the start, winning four of the six events. Excitement mounted as he went head to head with closest competitor, Theo Blignaut, who ultimately concluded the challenge in 2nd place, with Aaron Adler in third place.
In the women’s division, the Walkerbay Xtreme triathlon’s defending champion Vicky van der Merwe lined up at the start with a broken wrist, and raced her way to the Big 6 Xtreme’s top podium spot by winning five out of the six events. Trail runner and Lifesaver Linda Detering took silver, while Deleen-Marie Steyn raced into third place.
The 2017 Walkerbay Xtreme saw around 600 athletes – including Olympians, international stars, national champions and weekend warriors – descend upon Hermanus to face their fears, find their extremes, and swim, cycle, run, jump and lift their way to personal bests. And while it is only the second year that the Walkerbay Xtreme was staged, it is set to become a firm favourite on the South African race calendar, with many participants calling it their “new favourite event” and “the most beautiful multi-sport event in the country”.
An exciting event line-up, coupled with the spectacular setting, attracted an exceptional list of athletes. In addition to Burger and Van der Merwe, the Walkerbay Xtreme also welcomed Olympians Kevin Reid (2016 Games, cross-country) and Mari Rabie (2008 Games, triathlon), as well as top triathletes Theo Blignaut and Keelyn van Breda, renowned ice swimmer Ram Barkai, pro mountain biker Chris Wolhuter, trail running specialist Edson Kumwamba (fresh from his podium spot at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Trail Run) as well as SA marathon runner, Theresa Fourie.
Sponsors and local businesses contributed to generous prize money, including the R30 000 prize pot for the Big 6 Xtreme and Urban Xtreme respectively, R10 000 for the 18km Cliffpath Xtreme road run, and R10 000 for the 2.5km Open Water Xtreme ocean swim.
The stellar line-up aside, the Walkerbay Xtreme’s many events became the maiden voyage for many recreational athletes who participated in their particular races for the very first time, while shorter distance events like a 5km fun run and the HI-TEC Pirate Fun Walk for the little ones made the event a family friendly affair.
All proceeds of the HI-TEC Pirate Fun Walk will go to the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, an elite group of rangers who protect the Olifants West Region of Balule Nature Reserve.
Rick Oosthuyzen, part of the HI-TEC Walkerbay Xtreme organising team confirmed that the event has enjoyed exponential growth since its humble beginnings in 2015 (the event didn’t take place in 2016), with a 200% increase in event entries.
“The 2017 edition of the Walkerbay Xtreme surpassed our wildest expectations. Most of the events were sold out, and athletes enjoyed three days of incredible spectator support as residents and visitors lined the streets and cliff tops to watch the athletes in action.
It has always been our dream to establish Hermanus as a multi-sport destination of choice on the South African race calendar, and create opportunities for the community outside of the traditionally busy whale season. I am thrilled to see that we are achieving this goal.”
Oosthuyzen added that Hermanus was the ultimate winner this long weekend, with fully booked guest houses and businesses enjoying a higher turnover than Easter Weekend.
The 3rd edition of the Walkerbay Xtreme is scheduled to take place between 28 and 30 April 2018.