Jodie Cunnama won the IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa last weekend for the seventh time in a row. Trizone looks back at the race that made triathlon history.
Jodie Cunnama’s swim leg rivals men’s race
The pressure was high as Jodie Cunnama’s (nee Swallow) sidled up to the start line. Everyone around her knew she’d won the event six times before, which also made her the one to beat. As the race started and the women plunged into the open ocean swim, Cunnama took off. She powered through the the field creating a sizeable 2:40 lead ahead of British Susie Cheetham, but the battle between the two women was only beginning. As Cunnama raced towards T1, she was unaware she’d finished the swim in just 00:26:31, making her swim leg noticeably faster than at least half the men’s field.
Winds threaten Cunnama’s lead
As Cunnama soared through the first transition with a small lead, she prepared for the infamously gruelling bike leg that makes this event the second hardest 70.3 in the world. As Jodie surged forward on the bike, the winds were whistling hard, and she had all her work ahead of her. Susie Cheetham was just 1:12 behind her, putting in a solid effort against the wind, but it wasn’t enough to catch Cunnama before T2.
After the transition, Cunnama looked stronger than ever as she embarked on the 21km run. Cheetham kept up the chase and started gaining on her fellow Brit, boasting a run tim of 1:26:08, with Cunnama’s run time lasting 1:29:04. Despite Cheetham digging deep and closing the gap, it wasn’t enough, and Cunnama maintained her lead, winning the event for the seventh time in 4:39:49. Just over one minute later, Susie Cheetham finished in 04:40:51 after chasing Cunnama throughout the entire race. It was Polish Jerzyk Agnieszka who took out third in 04:47:49.
Humble Jodie Cunnama impressive with Cheetham
Cunnama says hard work and dedication gave her the strength to emerge victorious in difficult conditions. “It was tough and the conditions as well. This year the wind was strong and it was in your face. I’m quite happy with my performance. Sussie was close to me. I think her race was a lot better than she realises and all credit to her, I think she will be on top in the near future.”