James Cunnama came back for Round no 2 this year at yesterday’s 4th instalment of the MiWayLife Sun City Ultra. Having won last year’s event in a great finish time which pretty much set-up a stellar rest of the season for the seasoned PRO in 2017, Cunnama came back to defend his title at the Pilanesberg Sun City Resort over the 1.9km swim/90km cycle and 21km run. Race Conditions were ideal as athletes set of shortly after 7am from the Sun City Resort Complex.
It was never going to be easy for Cunnama this year as Matt Trautman was also in attendance and looking to steal the show for himself. These two athletes based down in the Western Cape often train together but both wanted the win badly so once the gun went off, the friendship was out the door and the race was on. Cunnama and Trautman shadowed each other over the 1.9km swim in pristine race conditions, exiting the water within 5 seconds of each other. Out of T1 and onto the road, it was Trautman who took the lead early on in the bike as he blitzed it out to the 1st turn-around point. Both equally matched in the cycling department, Cunnama was never going to let him go and the 2 shadowed each other over the fast rolling bike course which is one of the unique features of this great event. Chasing hard behind was another past Ultra winner in the form of Gerhard De Bruin who was 3rd out the water and onto the bike. His only company came in the form of Tiaan Swart as they tried to stay in touch with the two top class international PRO’s who were eating up the tar.
Off the bike, the 2 were side by side once again with Cunnama making his move on the run leg. By the end of lap one, he had about a 30 second lead with Trautman hanging tough to keep the pressure on for the lead. The golf courses winding run route made it easier for the leader to hide around some of the corners and Cunnama was probably hoping the “out of sight, out of mind” tactic would work. Cunnama crossed the line in a fast 3:51 with Trautman less than 2 minutes back in 3:53.
The big race was on for 3rd spot as De Bruin was being chased down by experienced ZKN athlete Donovan Van Gelder who put in a solid cycle time with an even faster run to finish just 7 seconds behind De Bruin.
On the ladies side, the race from the beginning was always going to be between Magda Nieuwoudt and Jade Nicole. Nieuwoudt was out the water, 30 secs up on Nicole. She then put a further 1:30 into her on the bike leg to hold a 2 minute lead heading into the final 21km run. Nicole was on fire during the run and quickly reeled in Nieuwoudt to take the lead and extend that to a winning margin of close to 7 minutes as she came home in 4:31 with Nieuwoudt hanging tough to claim silver in 4:38. Monique Janse Van Rensburg was the 3rd lady across in the line is one of her best performances to date.
For the sprint race, it was Cameron Macnair who took a fine win ahead of Pieter-Jan Van Der Merwe and Darren Marquiss in a fast 1:04.
On the ladies side of things, it was Ashleigh Irvine-Smith who showed her class as a 16 yr. old to take the win in 1:14, ahead of another youngster in the form of Kelly Fairon. Coming home in 3rd spot was Elzabe Van Den Heever.
Nest stop in the MiWaylife ULTRA TRI SERIES will be the CAPE ULTRA which takes place down in early September. For more details, visit www.ultratri.co.za