Swedish triathlete claims victory at Spartan Harriers Firgrove Challenge
Athletics / 1 February 2020, 8:00pm / Stephen Granger
CAPE TOWN – Lindikhaya “Leeds” Mthangayi raced to a pillar to post victory at the Spartan Harriers Firgrove Challenge on Saturday morning, but it was the women who served up the excitement and an international flavour as Swedish triathlete, Camilla Lindholm Borg held off fast-finishing Kelly Nel by the slimmest of margins to take victory.
Khayelitsha pastor, Mthangayi stayed on course to defend his title in the Peninsula Marathon in two weeks’ time with an impressive performance, with the veteran athlete leaving his younger rivals behind from the start to cross the line in 1 hr 06 min 41 sec – 37 seconds clear of Eerste River athlete, Raydon Balie.
“Leeds had a good run today and leaves shortly for a block of high-altitude training in Sutherland to prepare for his title defence at the Peninsula,” explained coach Frans Pienaar. “A Two Oceans gold (top ten) is his main focus in the first half of the year after his 13th position last year.”
Trail athlete, Alexa Townsend, opted to go for broke, speeding off from the gun and was soon out of sight of her pursuers. But she paid a price for her ambition, tiring in the second half, with Lindholm Borg overtaking her 6km from home in her pursuit for victory.
But the race was far from over as fast-rising 26 year old investment banker, Nel, had also passed Townsend and had started to close the gap on her Swedish rival. Fighting off the pain of cramping feet, the doughty Swede pushed through to the finish to relegate Nel to the runners-up berth for the second successive year.
“I saw her coming, but my toes were in agony,” admitted Lindholm Borg. But Swedes are known for their mental toughness, in particular Iron Man champions, and that gave Lindholm Borg, winner of last year’s ITU European Iron Man title, the edge in today’s contest. “I was not going to give up without a fight and somehow pushed through the pain until the finish line.
“I’ve been here with my family for a month of holiday and training with my coach Ernie Gruhn in Stellenbosch. It’s a great place to train – one of the world’s triathlon training meccas - and we come back most years. I’ll be sad to leave tonight though.”
Compensation for Nel was being crowned Western Province Half Marathon Champion, given Lindholm Borg’s ineligibility, and an improvement of almost a minute on her time from last year. “I joined up with Chris Bruwer’s training squad at the Retail Langa Club last year and that has really helped my performances,” admitted Nel.
“I just started running for fun a year or two back to get fit, aiming to do the Gun Run. I did quite well and went on from there. I know it sounds crazy, but I do all my training on the treadmill in the gym! It seems to work for me! The Two Oceans Half Marathon will likely be my next big race and then hopefully SA Half Marathon Championships.”
Spartan Harriers Firgrove Challenge and Western Province Half Marathon Championships