Blind adventurer and motivational speaker Hein Wagner and his riding partner Gerrie Olivier will take on the tough Ironman 70.3 (also known as the half Ironman) in East London this coming weekend in preparation of this year’s Absa Cape Epic.
Says Gerrie Olivier, Managing Director of Pragma Acuity and four-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, “Hein and I have been very busy training in preparation for this year’s Absa Cape Epic and believe that we’ve done the base work for this event. Our main goals are to complete this year’s 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.”
Adds Wagner, who has been completely blind from birth: “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. 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, 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).”
Olivier reckons 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.”
World-class athlete, Vanessa Gianinni, of Team Pragma Brazil will also be participating in this weekend’s half Ironman. Gianinni , Brazil’s top-ranked tri-athlete, participated in last year’s event and will return to improve her results. “I really enjoyed last year’s event and love South Africa. Hopefully this year I’ll improve on my results and get a podium finish.”
Besides Pragma’s two teams riding this year’s Absa Cape Epic, the company is also responsible for two of the most important services during the gruelling event namely the on route pro- and amateur tech zones and daily bike wash. This includes receiving the bikes on the finish line and securely placing them in the bike park.
For frequent updates on their training progress and funds raised, follow their official Facebook page – Beyond Vision Mission. You can also follow the team‘s preparation on Pragma’s website, YouTube and in the media.