2021 MetaSprint Series Duathlon race report
25 April 2021
Multisport athletes returned to the city centre at this weekend’s MetaSprint Duathlon, with the whirr of wheels along the F1 track and the stomping of heels beside Kallang River.
A revised schedule, to abide with Covid-19 safe regulations meant that the 1000 registered athletes raced in 50-person bubbles across four sessions in two days, starting one athlete every 5 seconds. So rather than having a clear-cut race to the line, athletes who raced over the 20km bike and 5km run Sprint distance were on tenterhooks until late morning Sunday to see if their performance was enough to score a podium position in their age category. A few of the wave starts were under night skies (taking advantage of the city’s illuminated skyline), and designed to accommodate Muslim athletes so they could break fast before starting their race.
Swiss cycling phenomenon Joel Liebi took victory in the Men’s Sprint race. After a dominating bike leg that saw him post the fastest bike split of 27:23 for the 20km course, he crossed the line over one minute faster than his rivals. The bike course took athletes around the famed Singapore Formula 1 track, offering speed and stunning city views. Liebi moved in front of the overnight leader, France’s Benoit Besnier, who’s running prowess gave him the accolade of the fastest run split of the weekend, 17:55 for the 5km distance. Perhaps it was the result from last year that drove Liebi to victory, after he was beaten by the Frenchman by just 17 seconds in the 2020 event. Kiwi Leighton Matheson came a close third, just five-seconds shy of Besnier.
Camille Bouverot also used her bike strength to steer her to victory in the Women’s Sprint race. The Frenchwoman recorded the fastest female bike split with 32:04 to secure top spot on the podium. After a solid race, Dora Branyan finished one-minute behind Bouverot to take second overall, and Emma-Jane Hughes came in third. Special mention to Maire Nic Amhlaoibh who blazed around the run course, setting the best female run split of 20:03.
Singapore’s national triathlon team members graced the course on Saturday afternoon, in a separate qualifying race to secure a spot in the coveted SEA Games Duathlon team. With the top 2 male and female finishers earning a slot the competition was fierce. 2020 MetaSprint Duathlon champion’s Ahmad Arif Ibrahim and Emma Middleditch took line honours for the men and women respectively. Luke Chua and Benjamin Koo rounded out the Men’s podium, while Herlene Yu and Man Yun Yong stepped onto the women’s dias.
The race isn’t just about the top performing athletes, for many it’s the culmination of a personal journey. Like Claire Jedrek, who was returning to the sport after having three kids in two years, and the set-back of being hit by a car during circuit breaker. She successfully finished her Sprint race in 1:06:19.
Or Devanshi Kar who took part in her first ever race, joining the Discovery event over the 10km bike and 2.5km run distance. As she nervously arrived to collect her rented bike, worried about how slow she would be in the race, she remarked “I just want to make sure that you don’t pack up and leave me out there”. She too finished – in one hour filled with success, pride and inspiration.
The Youths contests, for athletes aged 12-15, were also raced over the shorter 10km/2.5km distance and gave the rising stars their opportunity to own the road.
The male Youth’s race was a close affair between Lucas Eichaker and Muhammad Akid Muhammad Najib with Eichaker taking the win by three seconds in 20 minutes 30 seconds. Finlay Reid was third, eighteen seconds in arrears.
Swiss athlete Elisa Mauron used her run speed to her advantage in taking the girls title convincingly with a one minute 40 second margin over Oceane Leprovost, and Malaysian Eliza Tan 15-seconds further back.
The final races were the Kids events for boys and girls aged 8 to 11. They completed a 5km/1.5km challenge and rose to it with style, with Rafe Forbes and Hana Maeda winning the boys and girls races respectively.
The balmy racing conditions, and city location, gave an exhilarating experience especially for the 280 first-timers who graced the course. It’s the first step in their multisport journey.
And so, the 2021 MetaSprint Series moves onto the concluding Triathlon race on a soon-to-be- confirmed date. Another exciting weekend of action is guaranteed.
For details of the MetaSprint Triathlon, go to www.metasprintseries.com.