By Ross Roche
East London triathlon star Cindy Schwulst was in superb form over the past weekend as she powered her way to victory in the women’s division of the Mandela Day Triathlon at Midmar Dam on Saturday.
Schwulst cruised home in a time of two hours, 10 minutes and 33 seconds, beating out the challenge of South African champion Carlyn Fischer who came in a minute and six seconds later, while Celeste Renaud rounded out the top three a further minute and nine seconds back.
“I wasn’t expecting to win, I was hoping for a top two finish, so I was ecstatic to come out on top,” said Schwulst.
“I was up against Carlyn Fischer and she won the SA Champs earlier this year, while I came second, so I was really going to give it my all to try and beat her and managed to do it in the end.”
The top three kept together throughout the race and it was only on the run when Schwulst made her move to get away from the other two.
“It was an awesome race, the water was very cold, but I was expecting that, but almost everything went according to plan except for the first transition where my hands were so numb I couldn’t clip my bike helmet on, but other than that everything went well,” she said.
“At the beginning of this year I put a lot of work into my swimming and since April now I have been doing quite a bit more running.
“Carlyn runs very fast, so Celeste, Carlyn and myself started the run together and we ran the first five kilometres with each other and then we picked up the pace a little bit and dropped Celeste and then on a bit of a climb I picked up the pace again and managed to drop Carlyn.”
It adds to a fantastic year in triathlon for Schwulst, who has enjoyed a number of top placings including her runner-up finish at the SA champs. “I have been training hard and in every race I have been improving, so the hard work is paying off,” said Schwulst.
Following Saturday’s triathlon, Schwulst took part in the Mandela 10km race on Sunday morning and despite the efforts of the previous day still managed to impress, finishing a creditable sixth.
She will now look onto the rest of the season, before she sets her sights on the major challenges next year.
“I will be doing a number of local races in the next while and will be focusing on my running a bit, so I will take part in the Legends Half-Marathon in a few weeks,” said Schwulst.
“I will then be taking part in all the local triathlons towards the end of the year and then early next year will be a number of big races which I will hopefully be in top form for.