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Murray motors to second spot and resurgent Rabie gets 13th
- Updated: March 7, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s ace triathletes had a mixed bag of results as they raced the opening World Triathlon Series race in Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
Pick of the four-strong bunch was Richard Murray who continued his fine form of last season with a great second place, behind Spain’s Mario Mola.
Mola clocked 1hr 46min 54 sec for the 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run, 15sec down on Mola.
Cape Town’s Murray had a great swim to exit around 30sec behind the leaders group and then did a great job on the bike to hunt down the front pack.
After Mola had surged ahead in the early stages of the run, Murray himself forged a brief lead before Mola pulled away for the win.
‘Mario was so strong today. I had to dig deep in that final 3km, but all in all I am happy. I raced much harder that I planned for the first race of the year and am smashed! I now know there is so much more work to do, especially speed-running wise. I knew I won’t be as fast as I want to be come Rio this early in the season though and I’m very happy to have bettered on my third place last year. I am always looking for progress.’
The other South African male in the mix was Henri Schoeman who ended back in 42nd (1:50:04) position. As usual the Durban athlete had a powerful run and solid bike but recent injury problems took their toll on the running leg where he didn’t have the pace to stay in contact.
For the women’s part Mari Rabie, pictured right, will be rejoicing at her early-season form. After finishing third last at this race last year, the Stellenbosch based athlete raced to 13th spot in the desert duel (1:57:37 and 1:20 down on British winner Jodie Stimpson
She’s spent the last three months working hard under new coach Darren Smith and other leading internationals Jodie [Stimpson] and Lisa Norden. She told Road to Rio 2016: ‘We had a solid three months of work, but I still had no idea how that will reflect in racing. It is a very positive environment and we all work and train well together.
‘Abu Dhabi was a good first race. I had a comfortable, but strong swim, finishing third in the first lap and fifth out the water.
The bike was interesting as there was no motivation to work from the girls, so everyone just sat around and in retrospect I did too much. All the packs came together which shouldn’t really happen at that level.
‘The run was probably the best I have run off the bike – the plan was just to keep everything together in the run and we were running in a nice little group – but when it came to sprint time I had nothing to give.
‘But 13th is my best result in a World Series to date and a good season opener to build on! Way better than my starting number of 64 and also an indication that the long road of recovery from heart disease (which saw me take 10 months out) after July 2014 is now over.’
Fellow South African Sanders was not as happy with her 44th spot in 2:01:40.
‘I’m a bit frustrated as that race was no reflection of my current form. I got totally destroyed around the first buoy and 20 girls must’ve swum past me while I was getting half-drowned. This meant I missed the main bike pack… game over!
‘But there were lessons to be learned and takeaways – I need to be more aggressive.
‘However it’s good to blow out the cobwebs, can only get better now so onwards and upwards…’
Pictures courtesy of ITU