First Knysna Extreme hardest ever
The first Knysna Extreme Triathlon took place on Saturday 24 November, touted as one of the toughest triathlons in South Africa, and according to organisers it did not disappoint.
Participants started their incredible journey at 05:00 on Saturday from Thesen Island. They had to battle a 4km swim in the estuary against an outgoing high tide, then cycle 170km against a headwind on a hilly route which took them from Knysna, to George, over the Outeniqua pass and back to Avontuur. This was followed by a gruelling 50km run along Prince Alfred’s Pass that ended at the Diepwalle forest station.
The route tested both fitness levels and pure mental strength and determination.
Out of the 25 entrants who started, 20 athletes managed to cross the finish line before the midnight cutoff time. The first man across the line was Manfred Wiehahn after 12 hours and 58 minutes, and the first woman finisher was Natasha Gorrie, with a time of 13 hours and 35 minutes.
Two teams also completed the triathlon. The winning team from Knysna, consisting of Peter Cheadle (swim), Marcel Roos (cycle), and Melikhaya Msizi (run) completed the route in 12 hrs 15 mins.
‘Hardest triathlon ever’
According to Gorrie, the Knysna Extreme was the hardest triathlon she has ever done. “What an amazing race! Thank you to all my supporters who were here with me and everyone back in Johannesburg. Your belief and encouragement were overwhelming. To the amazing athletes who did this gruelling race with me, I honour and applaud you… Well done! Being the first lady, I am extremely happy,” she said.
Another competitor, Andrew Pettersen, said it was the greatest experience in ultratriathlon he has ever experienced. “Sean, the organiser, set up the ideal no-frills, back-tobasics, limit-pushing event. He should be so proud. We were all like one happy family. Highly emotional and everyone from crew, support to participants were just genuine gritty characters. Never experienced such a wonderfully spirited event,” Pettersen said.
Although he fell out of the road race at the 42km checkpoint, Pettersen said taking part in the Knysna Extreme was probably the proudest achievement in the “ultra-lifestyle” he has adopted.
According to the organisers everyone who took part in the Knysna Extreme is a winner. “If they finished the event, or even if they didn’t, each athlete can be incredibly happy with themselves for the fact that they gave it their all, all the way until the end,” a spokesperson said.
The next Knysna Extreme will be held over the same weekend next year, from 23 to 24 November.
All of the athletes who completed the event signed the Finishers board, so head down to Tapas and see who completed this Extreme Triathlon.
Photo: Jan-Hendriks Stander The first man across the line was Manfred Wiehahn after 12 hours and 58 minutes.