Marius Deysel is one of those weekend warriors often in local road runs and cycling events who rarely lands on the podium but whose contribution is invaluable nevertheless.
There is a community feel among local sports people and Deysel’s presence is worth more than just the entry fee to organizers; participants like him raise the event’s standards and adds kudos.
Quietly spoken and slightly built, Deysel’s demeanor should not be underestimated because he is one of the fittest of a growing band of local triathletes, proven by his third place finish in the duathlon last month.
He was third in the same event last year too. He also happens to be a former South African judo champ when still a teenager so he knows how to handle himself.
Ever improving, Deysel only started competing in triathlons five years ago on arrival in Grand Cayman. His other sporting love growing up in South Africa was cycling, but he prefers undulating roads.
“Hills and mountains suit me much better and that is definitely my strength,” he said. “Unfortunately, in Cayman, it is all flat, so that really favors the bigger and stronger riders. That makes it really hard for me to compete on the Cayman cycling scene.”
Always sporty, his mother took him to a judo class at age 4 and there was an instant interest. Two years later, he represented his provincial team for the first time in the South African championships.
Judo was a big part of his life growing up, as he represented his province 10 times and won numerous titles.
The highlight was becoming the South African national champion at 18. He also enjoyed cricket and rugby at an early age and in high school was a pole vaulter and tennis player. Cycling developed into another big passion.
“I got my first racing bike at 16 and started competing in the local races. I started doing triathlons after arriving in Cayman as many of my South African friends was doing it, and they all helped and encouraged me to give it a try. Big thanks to Johan Heath and Marius Acker.”
Most of the established triathletes in Cayman are South Africans, which Deysel puts down to sport being in their blood. Besides Acker, there is Johann Prinsloo, Dale Avery, Genevieve Georgiades and although Heath has left and Eugene Bonthuys also moved on last year, Deysel is still great friends with them and the network remains tight.
“It is part of our culture, I think, watching and taking part in sports. I do come from a very sporty family, which helps,” he said.
Deysel, 34, grew up in Bloemfontein, a town in the middle of South Africa. Then he moved to Cape Town for nine years after school before the leap to Cayman. He works at DMS in the IT department but insists he is not a nerd.
For the past two years he has been training harder, but since wife Lara had their first baby last year, priorities have changed slightly.
“Lara is a great help and she is always willing to help give me time to train. She is my No. 1 supporter and I’m really blessed to have such a awesome wife. I am getting more hours in this year, so hopefully I will get back to a better shape.”
Deysel is doing well in the Cayman Cycling Classics series this month. The final one is this weekend and he hopes to finish in the top five overall.
Besides the Classics series, the Cayman Triathlon and the Mercuryman Half Ironman of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 run are his favorites.
In his homeland, Deysel’s pet event is the Cape Argus, the biggest single day cycling event in the world. More than 35,000 cyclists compete on a course of just over 100 kilometers. “Loads of my South African friends who have done it as well would highly recommend it to all cycling enthusiasts.”
He started training at the end of last year for the Mercuryman in January. “It’s a great event and I highly recommend it to everyone. This half ironman is definitely the toughest. It tests you in all the ways possible, physically and mentally. But I still love it.”