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Team Arabika Dominates At Diani Triathlon

The Diani Triathlon brought together over 80 participants from across the country to compete in the fastest and probably the hottest triathlon and duathlon challenge in Kenya.

Hosted along the famous and pristine white sandy beaches, the second edition of the Diani Triathlon, Duathlon and 21KM Run kicked off on Sunday, 3rd December, 2017 at Leisure Lodge Resort. Dubbed the "fastest triathlon" in the country, the event brought together over eighty eight (88) participants from across the country to compete in various endurance events that would challenge their mental and physical capabilities.

The Sprint Triathlon, was defined as the "Thriller in Manila" where a battle between Swaleh Balala, Mohammed Suleiman, Abdalla Mansur, Mohammed Shamuty and Reginald Lusala took place with Suleiman taking the crown. In the women's category, Hanifa Said, Jess De Boer, Juhaina Ali and Josette Kiarie went head to head in an exciting women's event that saw each push their bodies to the limit with Hanifa emerging winner with Jess de Boer in second.

With a 5.55AM start for the triathlon, triathletes were segmented into two distances namely Sprint and Olympic. In the Sprint distance, participants begun with a 750m Swim followed by a 20KM cycle and 5KM run while the Olympic distance saw participants complete a 1.5KM swim, 40KM Cycle and 10KM Run. The early start played to the advantage of a large number of the athletes who had the opportunity to race in “relatively cool conditions”. This year, the Sprint distance was selected as a qualifier for Team Kenya for the upcoming Commonwealth and All Africa Youth Games in 2018 and athletes put their best foot forward showcasing grit and “fireworks” as Kenya’s best went head to head.

The Sprint Triathlon was defined as the "Thriller in Manila" where a battle between Swaleh Balala, Mohammed Suleiman, Abdalla Mansur, Mohammed Shamuty, Vincent Ochieng and Reginald Lusala. Despite a one minute penalty, Mombasa based Mohammed Suleiman took top position and went on to set a new course record of 1hr 7min. He was closely followed by Swaleh Balala, Abdalla Mansur, Mohammed Shamuty and Vincent Ochieng in that order. In the women's category, Hanifa Said, Jess De Boer, Juhaina Ali and Josette Kiarie also went head to head in an exciting women's event that saw each come out of the water relatively early and set a blistering pace on the bike segment with Hanifa emerging winner, Jess de Boer in second and Juhaina and Josette coming in a close third. In the Olympic triathlon, a battle between Toby Blake and seasoned triathlete Yaume Clave from France was witnessed with each pushing themselves throughout the race and Blake coming out on top while Clave finishing 30 seconds later. Joseph Kyalo came in third and Charlie Lewis fourth. The women's category had only one participant namely Johanna French who finished the event in 3hrs 59min.

In the duathlon event participants competed in a 5KM run, 20KM Bike and 5KM run where Mombasa based Steve Nyangau went head to head with Nairobi duathletes Kennedy Ochieng and Christopher Irungu. With the three changing places throughout the race, fans were left wondering who will take home the crown and after a sprint finish Steve emerged overall winner followed by Kennedy and Christopher. The women's category saw Lizzie Lewis set a blistering run and bike segment that saw her emerge as winner followed by Susan Njeru who despite a nagging Achilles injury throughout the race took second place.

Not to be outdone, a host of young athletes aged 11yrs - 16yrs took on the triathlon and duathlon challenge. In the triathlon challenge, the athletes swan 500m, cycled 10KM and run 3KM with Mohammed Khandwalla taking first position followed by Joshua Okal and Dharmesh Shah. The duathlon which comprised of a 3KM Run, 10KM Cycle and 3KM Run saw Vivian Hillier take first place in the female category while Twahir Rashid took first place in the male category.

Not far behind the top athletes, the Diani Edition also played host to a lot of competitors who were seeking to accomplish personal goals and conquering fears. For many, this was their first time participating in such an event such as Sameer Yakub a Nairobi based Dentist who is a cancer survivor and completed the event with one kidney. Not far behind was 15yr old Josette Kiarie who has battled with a heart condition since birth but this has not stopped her as she came in fourth overall in the women's sprint triathlon. Others included Rupen Pattni, Arafat Vaiani, Ted Ochola, Wanja Kariuki and Duncan Kiema.

Speaking at the event, Team Manager Michael Owora said that "this year’s Diani Edition recorded the highest number of participants in the series and was the fastest and by far the most competitive with the course record being broken by Suleiman". He further added that "the event was a success thanks in part to the participants but also key partners such as Safaricom Limited, Leisure Lodge Resort, Fargo Courier, Finis Swim Company, M&E Sports Wear who all supported the event and by extension the growth of triathlon in Kenya.

Also speaking after the event Kenya Triathlon Secretary Harrison Mwangi added that "this race was earmarked as one of the qualifying races for the 2018 Commonwealth games and All Africa Youth Games and gives the association insight into the calibre of athletes we have who can represent the country. He added that "triathlon is one of the fastest growing sports globally and this is evident with the increase in participation locally".