Photo Credit: FinisherPix / Rob Pollock Photography
The fourth edition of the Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa produced two new champions in the form of Frederik van Lierde (BEL) and Jodie Swallow (GBR) under trying conditions. What started out as a pleasant race morning with relatively calm water soon became a tough challenge for all the athletes as the winds rose and the rain started to take its toll.
First out of the water was Van Lierde with Balazs Csoke (HUN) almost neck and neck. Csoke crossed the mat first with a swim split of 00:24:58, closely followed by Van Lierde 00:25:00, Brad Storm (RSA) and Richie Cunningham (AUS). 2010 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Jodie Swallow was the first woman out of the water and 5th overall with a time of 00:25:16. A minute behind her was defending champion, Mari Rabie (RSA) and Lucie Zelenkova (CZE).
This paved the way for most of the race with positions changing hands regularly barring Van Lierde and Swallow who lead virtually from start to finish. South Africa’s favourite, James Cunnama exited the water in 10th place overall but made good time during his bike leg hoping to mount an assault once on the run. Van Lierde, however, had other plans as he proceeded to stretch his lead while out on the bike. The wet, blustery conditions might have put others off, but coming from Belgium where the weather is not what South Africans are used to, might have given him a slight advantage. Van Lierde had amassed a lead of 7 minutes which gave him a bit of breathing space going into the final stretch.
Cunnama made up all of five places on the bike, moving into 2nd place after the 30km mark not before an interesting tussle between Csoke, Cunningham, Storm and Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) ensued. Things stayed this way for most of the bike leg until Brad Storm started to make a charge at the leaders eventually displacing Cunnama shortly before the 60km mark. In an effort to get closer to the leader, Cunnama then promptly reclaimed 2nd position going into the run some 7 minutes behind van Lierde. The South African decimated the 7 minute difference between him and Van Lierde to just over 2 minutes approaching the 16km mark. Van Lierde, however made sure that he would take the spoils by warding off Cunnama’s challenge and emerged wet, tired but most importantly, victorious. He was followed by Cunnama and Degasperi who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The women’s race went very much the same way with Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Jodie Swallow, showing just why she’s so highly regarded. Exiting the water in 5th place overall, she never once looked like relinquishing her lead. After being followed out of the water by Zelenkova and Rabie, it was Tine Deckers (BEL) who would mount the strongest challenge out on the road.
Deckers was the 5th woman to emerge from the surf and promptly made her way up the field before moving into 2nd place after the 45km mark. From this point on she tried to cut Swallow’s lead before heading into the run, but eventually trailed by 6 minutes after the bike leg. Defending champion, Mari Rabie, kept the pressure on from 3rd place but it would ultimately be Swallow who would take the title in emphatic fashion. Pushing Swallow till the end was Deckers in 2nd place with Rabie in third.
The Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa was a race that delivered all the excitement and emotion that it promised and lived up to its high reputation despite less than favourable conditions. Mother Nature might have had a hand in the proceedings but the spirit, camaraderie and fanfare continued to shine through even though the sun did not.
Provisional results for the top 5 men and women: (Top 40 results in detail below)
1. Frederik van Lierde BEL 04:06:30
2. James Cunnama RSA 04:08:41
3. Alessandro Degasperi ITA 04:15:16
4. Richie Cunningham AUS 04:18:12
5. Balazs Csoke HUN 04:18:51
1. Jodie Swallow GBR 04:39:19
2. Tine Deckers BEL 04:42:25
3. Mari Rabie RSA 04:45:45
4. Lucie Zelenkova CZE 04:49:51
5. Sonja Tajsich DEU 04:51:26
Spec â€“Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa
23 January 2011
1.9km SWIM | 90km BIKE | 21.1km RUN
50 qualifying slots for the 2011 Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Las Vegas, Nevada
|1||Van Lierde, Frederik||32/Pro||0:25:00||2:18:18||1:19:21||4:06:30|
|9||De Villiers, Hendrik||30/Pro||0:25:30||2:38:51||1:15:41||4:24:44|
|14||De Bruin, Gerhard||27/Pro||0:27:33||2:31:23||1:31:19||4:34:33|
|15||De jongh, Raoul||32/30-34||0:27:19||2:34:44||1:29:15||4:36:18|
|20||Van der ryst, Corney||21/18-24||0:28:23||2:39:37||1:29:03||4:40:47|
|25||Van der leeuw, Phillipe||39/35-39||0:31:04||2:32:00||1:35:23||4:43:57|
|34||Van heerden, Antoine||20/18-24||0:31:12||2:41:19||1:29:29||4:47:11|