Ironman heroes stop to save two from drowning

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Trio rush to aid two youths caught in strong rip current 

Two Ironman SA triathletes and a race referee have been praised for abandoning the triathlon and rescuing two drowning bathers off East London on Sunday.

IRON SPIRIT: Triathlon referee Ross Murray, left, and triathlete Dylan Hartwig are thanked at a gala evening by IronmanSA operations director Paul Wolff for veering off the course and plunging into the sea to rescue two drowning bathers at the end of Sunday’s gruelling Ironman 70.3 race
IRON SPIRIT: Triathlon referee Ross Murray, left, and triathlete Dylan Hartwig are thanked at a gala evening by IronmanSA operations director Paul Wolff for veering off the course and plunging into the sea to rescue two drowning bathers at the end of Sunday’s gruelling Ironman 70.3 race

It took 15 minutes for referee Ross Murray, 21, of East London, athletes Martin Potgieter of Port Elizabeth and Dylan Hartwig from Durban to save the lives of the panic-stricken young men.

The unnamed bathers were swept out by a heavy rip tide in front of the Sugar Shack off Eastern Beach at lunchtime.

Murray, a fourth-year University of Cape Town engineering student, was riding a mountain bike checking on athletes, when he saw two youths playing on the edge of the deep channel.

“I looked again and they were being swept out to sea and yelling for help.”

He cycled onto the pavement, hefted his bike over the rocks, stripped to his underpants and swam 30m into the sea. One of the drowning men tried to climb onto Murray, who had served as a volunteer lifeguard at Nahoon beach while attending Selborne and Kingswood colleges.

Triathlete Potgieter, 37, said he was having a great race with only 12km left to run when he saw the rescue drama unfolding and heard shouts for help.

“I saw no one else and realised I had to get in.”

By then, Murray and the two drowning men were about 70m offshore.

When he got there, Potgieter and Murray had to “talk loudly” to calm them.

Hartwig, 21, a fourth-year accounting student at UCT, saw Murray struggling with the two bathers and Potgieter getting ready to assist.

“There was no ways he could pull both out so I took off my hat, glasses, race number and shoes.” Getting to the shore took 15 minutes but “felt like ages,” Potgieter said.

The bathers thanked their rescuers profusely, saying “God bless”, and the athletes went on to finish the race and earn their medals.

Wolff called Hartwig and Murray to the stage at the gala dinner and praised them. Potgieter had already left for PE by that time. — mikel@dispatch.co.za

 

Battered body can’t stop her

BRAVERY: Susie Cheetham completed the 70.3 Ironman with a broken elbow Picture: DEAN VENISH
BRAVERY: Susie Cheetham completed the 70.3 Ironman with a broken elbow Picture: DEAN VENISH

A woman triathlete with a broken elbow and tar grazes down her back finished the Ironman SA 70.3 in five hours, 21 minutes and 47 seconds.

Susie Cheetham, 28, a professional from Chippenham in Wiltshire, Britain, was in second place in the women’s race when she crashed at speed on her bike at the N2-North East Expressway interchange.

Ironman spokesman Michael Flanagan said: “She slipped in the wet while turning off the N2. She opted to finish the bike ride and received treatment at transition, where her arm was bandaged, and then proceeded onto the run and continued until the finish, finishing in eighth place in the pro women’s race.”

Cheetham posted on Instagram: “In T2 [transition two] I thought I could run and after starting found it difficult to quit. The support at this race is very special and I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of both the triathlon and South African community.”

Twenty-four hours later the married mum wrote: “Post surgery, I’ve got a broken elbow with some wires in it along with some sticky road rash. Ready to face my flight back to the UK!”

Flanagan said 2852 athletes entered, 2434 registered in East London, 2123 started and 1987 crossed the finishing line, meaning 865 fell out.

He said the new Ironman SA 70.3 Durban had attracted the attention of a number of those who had pulled out. — mikel@dispatch.co.za

 

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