Guillaume Rondy and Emma Middleditch emerged as the respective male and female winners of the 2019 MetaSprint Duathlon today, but it was Rondy who walked away with the biggest prize as he comfortably claimed the title of Champion of Champions at the F1 Village.
The Champion of Champions race at each of the three MetaSprint Series events sees the female elites given a head start on their male counterparts, with the handicap based on the time difference at the previous year’s corresponding race.
For the 2019 MetaSprint Duathlon, the elite women started the racing action at 6:25am, with the men set off to chase exactly 7 mins and 4 seconds later.
Daylight was still breaking as the women headed out on the opening 3km leg of the run-bike-run contest which largely followed the Kallang River. As the strung-out field came back in sight of the race village it was Singaporean athlete Emma Middleditch who was at the helm, and she duly hit T1 first with a lead of some 44 seconds from fellow countryman Man Yun Yong, and Anna Willett from Australia a further 22 seconds behind.
The local youngster then executed a solid bike leg, not panicking when Willet begun to cut into her lead with every lap. Willet eventually had the fastest female bike split of the day with a 32 minute 55 second time over the 18km course. At the end of the three laps there was just 40 seconds separating the pair. Middleditch entered the final run confident of her running ability over Willet, breaking the tape unchallenged in a time of 58 minutes 23 seconds to take the Women’s title. Second place went to Daria Pletikapa who raced in her own age group wave and had a solid run-bike-run combo. Willet was the third female overall two minutes and eight seconds behind Emma.
Emma was obviously delighted in claiming the women’s crown. Did she have a race plan? “Straight away I went into the lead, I was expecting them to stick with me but they didn’t so I decided to try and take advantage of that without going all out. I got onto the bike and at each U-turn I tried to see how far back the second girl was, she was slowly catching me but luckily she didn’t” she said. And what about the men, was she conscious of them on the course? “In transition the first guy had caught me up, and a few more overtook me on the run and I tried to stick with them. I kind of cruised it on the second run because I knew the other girl wasn’t catching me up but I still tried hard”, Middleditch said.
In the men’s race, Rondy came from behind after the opening run leg, mainly because of the frantic pace pushed by local Singaporean Gen Lin Foo who led the run with a zippy 9:29 for the 3kms, with 2018 MetaSprint Aquathlon champion Tim Cosulich close behind. The group exited transition together with Rondy heading straight to the front.
While Rondy was putting the hammer down trying to create a gap over his competitors, Joel Liebe was making his way through the field, after starting the cycle 47 seconds down on the trio. A 27 minute 20 second split gave him the day’s fastest time for the bike leg and resulted in him coming off the bike in 2nd position. Local athlete Ahmad Ibrahim was also making his move through the field after finishing the first run leg in 7th position.
Neither of those two were a match for Rondy however, and as soon as he slipped on his running shoes for the second time he ran his way to the overall win. Liebe held on to second place, with Ibrahim continuing his procession through the field to storm home in third.
Rondy, the 2015 MetaSprint Duathlon Champion, summed up his return to the race after a four year absence, “It started really fast, not as fast as I expected so I could keep up with Tim and the other Singaporean guy. I had a really quick transition, so I was first out which was really good. On the bike I just went really all out for three laps, I was putting some time into everyone else, except for the guy who came second in the end who was coming back really quick, but I figured if he wasn’t with me on the first run then I’m probably faster than him on the run”. And did he feel any pressure during the last run? “The first kilometre I went really hard to try and put some time in, and then I turned around at half way and realised I had a comfortable lead and I could keep the pace without speeding up, and come in and win it. When you see you are winning it gives you extra motivation.”
When asked about the course Rondy commented “it’s good, it’s safe, it’s fast, you can see your competitors a lot of places, you can see how far ahead or behind you are. But it’s good, it’s all out. It’s been four years since the last one, I won four years ago. This year I think I need a bit more racing. I felt in the races last year that I lacked that top end by not racing.” So will he be back for the triathlon at East Coast Park on 28 April? “I’m glad I came back and I’ll be doing the triathlon next month. There’s a lot of really strong swimmers, for me I’ve got to try and catch up to them, so we’ll see – I’m in good shape at the moment”, Rondy said.
The Youths contests, for athletes aged 12-15, are raced over a shorter 1.5km/12km/1.5km version of the Sprint course.
The male Youth’s race was a close fought battle, with Isaac Tan, Zubair Mazlan and Romuo Perthius putting on a great show for the big crowd that the Youth and Kids races always attract at the MetaSprint Series races. Isaac Tan emerged victorious by nine seconds over Mazlan, with Perthius a further 21 seconds in arrears.
In the female race, British athlete Nathalie Hunter took the title convincingly with a 36 second margin, followed by Fleur Helmantel and Malaysian Glynnis Yap.
The final races, of a day in which some 1,500 duathletes of all ages completed, were the Kids events for boys and girls aged 8 to 11. They completed set a 700m/6km/700m challenge and rose to it with style.
Rounding out the day’s schedule were the 3-8 year old’s in the Super Scoot, a 500m scooter ride which enables them to have their moment of glory crossing the line to claim their own finisher medal.
And so the 2019 MetaSprint Series moves onto the concluding Triathlon race at the East Coast Park on April 28. It won’t just be the elite athletes who’ll be chasing overall series glory, all the many age groups in the Sprint, Discovery, Youths and Kids divisions are up for grabs. An exciting morning of action is guaranteed.
For details of the MetaSprint Triathlon, including how to enter, go to www.metasprintseries.com.