Today, we travel to East London, for a nice swim down the River Thames and perhaps some tea and scones…er, wait. Wrong London.
East London also happens to be a city on the Southeast coast of South Africa. Now that we’ve gotten our geography lesson out of the way, let’s check out the IM South Africa 70.3 course: first, it’s an ocean swim in Orient Beach, albeit a rather calm one – protected by your friendly local harbor. The bike course features som
e challenging rolling hills, although Ironman is supposedly treating cyclists to a partially closed course to allow them to better appreciate their beautiful surroundings. While going uphill. But good news! The run is flat. And you get to look at the ocean.
Pro start list: Jodie Swallow, Susie Cheetham, Astrid Stienen, Matty Trautman, James Cunnama, Kyle Buckingham
This Is What Happened
The day started with the water temperature at a balmy 16.8 C (stubborn American translation: 62.24 F) and minimal wind. Mike Threlfall led the men out of the water, with Will Clarke, Rudolf Naude, and Kyle Buckingham just 100m behind him as light rain began to fall. Hitting the bike course, Matty Trautman joined the lead pack of Clarke, Buckingham, and Naude, all still in pursuit of Threlfall in the early miles. Trautman and Buckingham caught up to Threlfall first, and Trautman took over the lead at 19.4km.
— Brett Sutton (@trisutto) January 24, 2016
“You good thing”: a Sutto term of endearment.
Buckingham sat comfortably in position 2 at the 22km mark, while farther back the chase group had shaken up – while Threlfall had reportedly fallen back after his quick start, Konstantin Bachor, Clarke, Stuart Marais, James Cunnama and Rudolf Naude were going strong. At the 45km turn-around point, just 2 seconds now separated Trautman and Buckingham in 1st and 2nd, with the chase pack now led by Cunnama 3:37 back. Trautman hit T2 first, with a split of 2:42:36, and Buckingham following him in just 28 seconds back. Behind them, the chase group had splintered to Cunnama, Bachor, and Marais in 3rd-5th (+5:18, +5:26, +5:35) as the men headed out onto the run.
— Matt Trautman (@MattyTrautman) January 24, 2016
5km into the run, Matty T had opened up slightly over a minute lead on Buckingham, which he extended to 2 minutes by 10k. Trautman pulled further away and looked to have things in the bag, so it was a good thing interesting things were still happening behind him – namely, Cunnama started to creep up on Buckingham to set up a run-off for 2nd/3rd. Trautman finished his jog in the park to top the podium in 4:01:52, whilst 8 minutes back, Buckingham and Cunnama did not disappoint – taking 2nd & 3rd separated by 1 second, in 4:09:10 and 4:09:11 respectively. That 1 second cost Cunnama $1,750…
- Matt Trautman, 4:01:53 (26:03 swim / 2:13:39 bike / 1:17:34 run)
2. Kyle Buckingham, 4:09:11
3. James Cunnama, 4:09:12
4. Stuart Marais, 4:10:23
5. Konstantin Bachor, 4:13:55
And oh yeah, a women’s race also happened, although you wouldn’t have known it from the coverage. Sure, the field was smaller, but arguably stronger. Look how many pro men Jodie Swallow was beating!!!
As the pre-race favorite, Jodie Swallow made short work of the swim, leading Lucie Zelenkova and Susie Cheetham into T1. Swallow continued to lead out on the bike despite driving rain, with a pack including Cheetham, Zelenkova, Annah Watkinson, and Maria Czesnik following her. At 20km, Swallow had a 6:27 lead over Cheetham, with Watkinson 8:15 off the lead in 3rd, and by 45km Swallow had extended her lead to a solid 10 minutes. No one was surprised when Swallow hit T2 flying solo, at 2:54:21. Astrid Stienen came in next +15:38, with Watkinson in 3rd +17:50, Cheetham +20:55, and Czesnik +24:58. The Swallow landed at the finish line in 1st place by a very comfortable margin (18:32), giving her an impressive 6 wins in a row at IM 70.3 South Africa.
Of note, Susie Cheetham suffered a big crash at the end of the bike, got back up, and still finished in 8th place. Turns out she broke her arm and went straight to surgery – wishing her a speedy recovery. See twitter (@susiecheetham) for gory pictures. #badass
- Jodie Swallow, 4:23:29 (25:16 swim / 2:26:01 bike / 1:27:29 run)
2. Astrid Stienen, 4:42:01
3. Annah Watkinson, 4:43:35
4. Maria Czesnik, 4:55:35
5. Lina-Kristin Schink, 4:57:59
Well done all . LOVE this race ☺x https://t.co/Ft7HRG54Gm
— Jodie Swallow (@jodieswallow) January 24, 2016