Perfect weather conditions greeted the almost 2000 athletes as they lined up for the toughest endurance show on earth that is the IRONMAN. 226km of pure agony is what lay in wait for some. The Professional field got off to a flyer with near perfect sea swimming conditions over the 2 loop 3.8km swim course. Race Favourite, Marino Van Hoenacker and Andreas Bucherer led the charge as the men scrambled to hold onto the frantic swim pace. Woman’s race favourite Chrissie Wellington was safely into the chasing pack of swimmers as they entered the ocean for the second 1.9km swim loop. By now Andreas Bucherer was on his way to recording the days fastest swim split with a time of 47:42 as he exited the swim. Van Hoenacker was close on his heels just 3 seconds back. South Africa’s no 1 and defending champion, Raynard Tissink came out a minute later in 48:53 as he started to play catch-up on the bike over the first few kilometres. Wellington came out of the water in a solid 21st position overall but still 36 seconds down on Rachel Joyce who would eventually finish as runner-up after a fast swim in and amongst the leading PRO men.
The bike discipline played out with Tissink, Van Hoenacker and Bucherer constantly trading places over the super fast bike course. It was Van Hoenacker and Bucherer who put down the hammer with 60km to go to try and shake the South African favourite but he was sticking to his guns and remaining within a minute of the leaders.
Wellington was in a class of her own on the bike, taking command of the ladies race and putting pressure on some of the leading men in the race. Joyce was now trailing well back in second place with Diana Riesler moving into 3rd place on the bike. Van Hoenacker would end the day with the fastest bike split in a shade over 4:18 with Tissink second in 4:19 and Bucherer just behind him in 4:21. The trio started the run like a house on fire with Marino cruising to a 1:30minute lead over Tissink at the 1km mark on the marathon with Bucherer a further 20 seconds behind. Wellington was sublime on her Cannondale and churned out a 4:45 bike split with the next nearest female competitor some 10 minutes back in 4:55.
Tissink kept his cool on his hometown course while Van Hoenacker started to feel the pressure from his pursuers during the run. It was Bucherer who was putting in an early charge to try and take the lead, a tactical error at that early part of the marathon that would potentially cost him the victory. Marino looked steady but not superfast and the press conference where James Cunnama (RSA) was adamant that he could be beaten if put under pressure, was coming back to haunt him. Tissink had once again re-taken 2nd spot from Andreas Bucherer and was now charging for the win with the 30 000 odd home straight supporters willing him on every step of the way. Chrissie Wellington was absolutely flying on the run and was visibly running faster than the men at the 1km marker board. She had in effect already sewn up the ladies race on the bike and was now gunning for the record and a top 10 overall placing. Rachel Joyce was hanging tough on the run route some 25 minutes back with only Riesler to worry about in 3rd spot.
At about the 20km plus mark on the run course, Van Hoenacker with Tissink breathing down his neck, jumped off the run course and went home for an early shower. Raynard Tissink had now moved into the front position with Bucherer in 2nd spot and another South African James Cunnama taking up 3rd overall position overall. Once you put Raynard in front with his fan’s willing him on, you are not going to catch him as his record breaking 8:05:36 was good enough to take his 3rd South African Ironman Title and truly establish him as one of the World’s greatest Ironman Champions. Bucherer came home in 2nd spot some 3 minutes back with Cunnama running the fastest men’s marathon time of the day in 8:13:18, also well under the previous record times.
Wellington was smoking up the run course and always looked in control and super focussed as she mowed down most of the PRO men ahead of her. In what would probably be a first considering the quality PRO men’s field on view, she would go on to record the days fastest run marathon time in an incredible 2:52:54 and overall 8th position finish time of 8:33:56. Joyce was having a solid day at the office and came home in 2nd place for a time of 9:08:23 with Diana Riesler a further 12 minutes back in 9:20:37.
Overall a fantastic days racing down in Port Elizabeth. Raynard Tissink showed he has massive big match temperament by dusting some of the big names in world triathlon whilst Chrissie Wellington proved that she has no female threat at the moment. To win by almost 40 minutes and place in the top 10 overall shows she has no equal at this stage of her career. How much faster can she get?
The rest of the field plodded along and did their thing on an incredible day with a number of athletes grabbing those valuable Kona slots. All in all, a good days racing with fantastic weather conditions………….
1. TISSINK, Raynard
RANK 2/3/1, AGE 38/PRO, SWIM 00:48:53, BIKE 04:19:41, RUN 02:53:21, TOTAL 08:05:36
2. BOCHERER, Andreas
RANK 1/4/2, AGE 28/PRO, SWIM 00:47:42, BIKE 04:21:19, RUN 02:55:57, TOTAL 08:08:36
3. CUNNAMA, James
RANK 15/5/3, AGE 28/PRO, SWIM 00:51:10, BIKE 04:25:39, RUN 02:53:16, TOTAL 08:13:18
4. FONTANA, Daniel
RANK 3/6/4, AGE 36/PRO, SWIM 00:48:53, BIKE 04:30:35. RUN 02:56:00, TOTAL 08:18:51
5. VIENNOT, Cyril
RANK 13/11/5, AGE 29/PRO, SWIM 00:51:05, BIKE 04:30:15, RUN 03:05:20, TOTAL 08:30:42
6. STURLA, Eduardo
RANK 16/13/6, AGE 38/PRO, SWIM 00:51:23, BIKE 04:36:20, RUN 03:01:13, TOTAL 08:32:52
7. WIDMANN, Uwe
RANK 10/7/7, AGE 41/PRO, SWIM 00:49:01, BIKE 04:30:09, RUN 03:10:09, TOTAL 08:33:39
8. VABROUSEK, Petr
RANK 29/18/9, AGE 38/PRO, SWIM 00:54:58, BIKE 04:42:23, RUN 02:58:58, TOTAL 08:40:36
9. DELSAUT, Trevor
RANK 27/19/10, AGE 27/PRO, SWIM 00:54:46, BIKE 04:43:02, RUN 03:00:04, TOTAL 08:41:57
10. CSOKE, Balazs
RANK 5/8/11, AGE 28/PRO, SWIM 00:48:55, BIKE 04:30:30, RUN 03:19:53, TOTAL 08:43:06
1. WELLINGTON, Chrissie
RANK 21/17/8, AGE 34/PRO, SWIM 00:51:40, BIKE 04:45:23, RUN 02:52:54, TOTAL 08:33:56
2. JOYCE, Rachel
RANK 14/26/16, AGE 33/PRO, SWIM 00:51:06, BIKE 05:02:29, RUN 03:10:30, TOTAL 09:08:23
3. RIESLER, Diana
RANK 40/30/21, AGE 27/PRO, SWIM 01:02:21, BIKE 04:55:16, RUN 03:18:45, TOTAL 09:20:37
4. FELT, Silvia
RANK 43/35/24, AGE 34/PRO, SWIM 01:03:50, BIKE 05:01:08, RUN 03:15:31, TOTAL 09:24:31
5. STEVENS, Amanda
RANK 4/29/25, AGE 34/PRO, SWIM 00:48:55, BIKE 05:07:45, RUN 03:24:23, TOTAL 09:25:50
6. GRANGER, Belinda
RANK 26/27/26, AGE 41/PRO, SWIM 00:54:45, BIKE 04:58:25, RUN 03:30:30, TOTAL 09:28:59
7. BENZ, Simone
RANK 23/32/27, AGE 31/PRO, SWIM 00:52:56, BIKE 05:05:39, RUN 03:28:20. TOTAL 09:31:21
8. DOGANA, Martina
RANK 33/41/29, AGE 32/PRO, SWIM 00:57:43, BIKE 05:24:14, RUN 03:20:34, TOTAL 09:47:47
9. GRICE, Yvette
RANK 32/39/30, AGE 31/PRO, SWIM 00:57:24, BIKE 05:19:50, RUN 03:37:39, TOTAL 09:59:28
10. DOLLINGER, Eva
RANK 25/34/31, AGE 33/PRO, SWIM 00:53:02, BIKE 05:06:53. RUN 03:55:52, TOTAL 10:00:24