MetaSprint Aquathlon 2019 report
February 17, 2019
With a stacked field of elite athletes the 2019 MetaSprint Series Aquathlon promised to be an exciting affair and it certainly delivered. With four athletes from the 16-19 years old category on the men’s and women’s overall podium, the year of the pig promises to be one for the young talents. Leading the charges was 17-year old Rahul Jegatheva from Australia, the World Championships’ U19 silver medallist, He produced a scintillating performance to win both the Men’s Elite and the Champion of Champions titles with a 27 second margin at Sentosa’s Palawan Beach today.
April Rice took the women’s crown and was leading the Equalizer “battle of the sexes”, until the 2.5km mark when the women’s chances of reclaiming the Aquathlon title were dashed as Jegatheva stormed past.
Race organisers MetaSport must keep a weather genie in their office as year in, year out the sun shines down out of clear blue skies on the Aquathlon, the traditional opening leg of the MetaSprint Series.
Even as the dawn broke at 7:00am, there was already a buzz about the picturesque Palawan Beach as the big field of participants and even larger crowd of supporters started to gather.
The action started with the elite athletes, though, and at exactly 7:50am the top-ranked women dashed into the water. The best male swim-runners followed 3 minutes and 25 seconds later to set up the “Equalizer” element of the race. Based on the previous years’ results in the MetaSprint Aquathlon, the female elites are given a head start, with the first athlete of either gender across the finishing line crowned the Champion of Champions.
And sure enough it was a youngster who led out of the water. Sam McInness completed the 750 meters swim leg in a nippy 12 minutes and 15 seconds. This gave her a slim lead of 9 seconds over April Rice, with the rest of the field already distanced at 54 seconds.
Canadian national Rice gradually caught and passed McInness in the ensuing thrilling foot race with 3 kilometers to go. And although she was caught by the men’s winner, Jegatheva, she strode on to take the women’s title in a time of 33 minutes and 48 seconds. McInnes was the runner-up, some 48 seconds behind and Holly McWilliam completed the podium. The 17-years old McWilliam actually had a faster swim split then Rice and McInnes, but did not feature in the elite wave and therefore raced to a 3rd place under the radar.
This is what April Rice had to say about her race: “I went out really hard on the swim, arguably too fast, but I managed to recover in the first kilometre of the run, then kilometres 3-4.5 were a real struggle. I passed the other girl in the first kilometres, and found it hard mentally to run when no-one is around to really push” Rice said. “The guys started passing me around the 2.5km mark but I was happy to make it half way through the run without a boy overtaking me, and he’s fast – wow.”
Watch out boys, she’ll be back for the Duathlon and Triathlon – “For sure, I’ll keep doing this every year, I love it, it’s so well organised, the MetaSprint Series is amazing.”
If the women’s elite field was strong, then the men’s was positively herculean. Among those joining Jegatheva on the beach was the 2018 MetaSprint Aquathlon winner Tim Cosulich and runner-up Jauhari Johan, fastest age grouper at the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 Bintan Assad Attamimi, and Singapore triathlon prodigy Nicholas Rachmadi.
It was Jegatheva who proved the strongest swimmer by far. The high-schooler’s fish-like split of 10 minutes 19 seconds for the 750m was an astonishing 21 seconds faster than 2nd placed Rachmadi and 44 seconds ahead of Trott, who hit the beach in third.
The Australian Jegatheva ran his heart out to defend his position against the charging Trott and Besnier. “I put on my shoes and I ran the best race I could”. And what a race it was, holding his lead and crossing the line for a comfortable victory of 28 seconds over second place Trott and 32 seconds over Frenchman Benoit Besnier, in third.
Whilst acknowledging “it was a very nice race, with nice scenery” organisers can’t tempt Jegatheva to stay for the upcoming MetaSprint Series Duathlon and Triathlon as he starts university in Australia this week.
As the elite racers recovered in the MetaSprint Festival Village, the 1,500+ other athletes, suitably inspired by the top dogs, got their chance in the spotlight. The racers were set off in a series of small, age-group waves, or they had the option of starting in a “friends wave”.
All the MetaSprint Series events finish with the youngest athletes, and the Youths (for 12-15 year olds) and Kids (for 8-11 year olds) races always provide a lot of excitement for the competitors and their parents alike.
And returning to the program was a non-competitive Kids Splash ‘n Dash, where children as young as four got their chance for some fun in the sun.
The Youths competed over the 250m-2.5km distance and the boys’ Youths race had a come from behind winner in the shape of Ernest Low. The battle for second place was much equally fought, with Kai Xiang Yap holding off Curtis Gray by 23 seconds.
The girls’ Youth champ Elizabeth Rose was a clear and wire-to-wire winner, while the runner-up Pearl Kenderes held off a fast charging Stella Crow to take third place overall.
The Kids faced a 150m swim followed by a 1.5km run. Hugo Tan used a strong swim as the springboard for his win in the boys’ race. Second place went to Go Fujimoto 17 seconds back, with Orlando Goodson-Ong a further 14 seconds back in third.
Last year’s runner-up Rey Min Soh was the girls’ Kids champion, winning by 10 seconds from Matilda Pearce, who held off the third-fastest finisher Elo’se Kerleroux.
The second leg in the series, the run-bike-run MetaSprint Duathlon (set for March 10), gives rookies a chance to cycle in the safety of wide, closed roads, and by the time the closing MetaSprint Triathlon comes around (April 28), the newcomers are ready to put all three triathlon disciplines together if they choose to do so. Then, those who will have gotten the bug will step up at the Olympic Distance of the Bintan Triathlon in June, and again at IRONMAN 70.3 Bintan in August.
As many happy faces left the venue at the conclusion of the event, it was living proof that the MetaSprint Series really is “a fun way to be a triathlete”.
Full results for the MetaSprint Aquathlon can be found at www.metasprintseries.com/race-results/.