Dr Karen Bargate at the finish line.

Not many people have the stamina to pull off a 1.9km surf swim, 90.1km cycle and 21.1km run.

Not only did School of Accounting, Economics and Finance academic, Dr Karen Bargate, manage to do all three, she came first in her age category (60-64) at the recent Durban Ironman 70.3 triathlon series. Bargate is also currently ranked sixth in her age category in the world.

The Durban Ironman 70.3 triathlon series is part of the global Ironman movement with more than 260 events across 44 countries. The race, which took place this month (June), began with a swim at the uShaka Beach followed by a bike course that loops around the Blue Lagoon and heads along the M4 highway, ending off with a two-loop run course along the promenade.

To prepare for this physically and mentally grueling challenge, Bargate trains with Team TriLab and a coach. She also cycles with her husband, Grahame, on weekends.

‘I first participated in a 70.3 Ironman in Durban in 2016. I have since then done the race in Durban in 2017 and in Vichy, France. In 2018, I did the 70.3 Ironman Buffalo City, in East London, as well as well the Durban race. I was very happy to finish first as I have had two third place finishes in Vichy and East London, so it was good to make the top step of the podium. It made all the early mornings worthwhile as I am up at four am in the morning four days of the week to train,’ she said.

After competing in such an endurance race, one would expect Bargate to slow down. However, the hardworking athlete only took a week’s break after the race and is already preparing for the next challenge.

‘My next event is the South African duathlon championships which will be held at the Midmar Dam on the first of July which I will use as preparation for world champs. I will continue with consistent training until the 70.3 world champs on the first and second of September in Port Elizabeth. I am very happy that my daughter, Erin, who is a UKZN alumnus, has also qualified for world championships so we will both be competing,’ she said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph supplied by Grahame Bargate