Closest race ever for Midmar top 10

2010-02-15 00:00

IT WAS all excitement at the 37th Halfway Telkom Midmar Mile yesterday, in one of the most closely contested races in the event’s history.

The women’s event saw crowd favourite and multiple champion Keri- Anne Payne add yet another title to her trophy cabinet. The world 10 km champion and Olympic silver medallist was content to let compatriot Katy Whitfield set the early pace, with the entire British contingent dominating proceedings at the head of the field.

Whitfield claimed all three “hot spots” at the 400 m 800 m and 1200 m marks, while British team-mates Payne, Olympic bronze medallist Cassandra Patton, Charlotte Wooliscroft and Sophie Casson held sway against the local challenge.

While Kathryn Meaklim and Rene Warnes were able to compete, it was the diminutive Nicole Brits who impressed with a high stroke rate despite falling off the pace in the closing stages of the race.

With 250 m to go, it was the experienced Payne who picked up the pace and moved into the lead, a position she was to maintain in claiming her sixth Halfway Telkom Midmar Mile title in a time of 19:24 — just ahead of Whitfield, who had to settle for silver, after a brave effort, in a time of 19:27.

The British contingent claimed the next three places with Patton (19:30) claiming the bronze ahead of Wooliscroft and Sophie Casson, who were both credited with a time of 19:34.

Meaklim (19:40) headed the South African challenge, securing sixth place, followed by Warnes (19:55) and the promising Brits (20:05)

Brittney Cameron (20:57) and Megan Stephens (21:33) completed the top 10 in an event that was dominated by the international visitors.

With a host of international competitors lining up to take on South Africa’s finest open-water swimming competition, it was the dynamic Chad Ho who headed the pack out from the gun in the final men’s race.

The Cape Town duo of Heerden Herman and Danie Marias headed the chasing pack, which included defending champion Riaan Schoeman, former champion Shaun Dias, the German duo of Alexander Studzinski and Christian Reichert through the first two “hot spots” at the 400 m and 800 m marks.

It was at that point that Schoeman and Studzinski made their move, easing past Herman and Marais and matching Ho stroke for stroke. Schoeman edged ahead at the 1200 m mark to take the final “hot spot”, while the UK’s Daniel Fogg and local lad Myles Brown surged towards the leaders.

With 200 m to go, the leading group of six swimmers were in an extended line matching each other stroke for stroke. Schoeman again surged, Ho and Studzinski responded, with Fogg moving effortlessly into contention. Coming into the slipway, it was Fogg who held a slight advantage, with Ho moving up on to his shoulder.

As they entered the shallows, Fogg stood up first slightly ahead, but Ho’s Midmar Mile experience allowed him to surge over the line to claim victory by the slightest of margins. Ho claimed his title in a time of 18:39, with the British ace being credited with 18:40.

The battle for third place saw Schoeman (18:42) edge out Studzinski (18:43) in another close call, with Brown heading in the chasing pack in a time of 18:45. The talented Shaun Dias followed in 18:51, a sterling effort when one considers that it was his fourth mile of the weekend. He was well ahead of his Seagulls team-mate Chad le Clos (18:57).

Christian Reichert placed eighth ahead of Tom Allen. Both were credited with a time of 19:00, while Heerden Herman claimed 10th place in 19:02 — completing the closest race ever for the top 10 in the 37-year history of the event.

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