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Hein Wagner (left) and Gerrie Olivier
Wagner, Olivier team up for both events
Blind adventurer Hein Wagner and his riding partner Gerrie Olivier will take on the Ironman 70.3 - a half Ironman - in East London, South Africa, this coming weekend in preparation of this year's Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race.
"I've taken on many daring adventures including mountain climbing, sailing from Cape Town to Rio and running marathons. I also hold the World Land Speed record for a blind driver," said Wagner, who has been completely blind since birth. "I've previously only participated in one Ironman in Korea as part of a blind relay team, so this will be my first Ironman where I participate in all three disciplines."
"Gerrie will be doing all three with me - we shall run and swim with a cord connected to each other so that I have a very good idea of the direction to go. I'm really excited about this weekend's Half Ironman.
"Our preparation for the Cape Epic has been reasonably good. We've been training for the past four months and also participated in an intensive training camp in December," said Wagner, "so I think we'll finish comfortably."
"As far as I know, I'll be the only blind participant and would like to thank Ironman SA - they've been very accommodating with regards to my special needs (e.g. our tandem bike)."
"Hein and I have been very busy training in preparation for this year's Cape Epic and believe that we've done the base work for this event," said Olivier, four-time Cape Epic finisher.
"Our main goals are to complete the Cape Epic as Team Pragma Beyond Vision and to then participate in Ironman South Africa. We both really enjoy challenges and would like to qualify for the Ironman World Championship Kona, in Hawaii next year."
Olivier reckons that Wagner is much better in two of the disciplines than he is. "I'm quite an experienced cyclist, but literally had to learn to do open water, long distance swimming. Hein is definitely a much stronger swimmer and runner than I am. Although I'll be the one leading, I think Hein will be the one doing most of the work in these two disciplines."