Surprise winner in Ironman 70.3

DARK HORSE: South African Matt Trautman clinched the 70.3 Standard Bank Ironman in a time of four hours and four minutes in Buffalo City yesterday Picture: MARK ANDREWS -
DARK HORSE: South African Matt Trautman clinched the 70.3 Standard Bank Ironman in a time of four hours and four minutes in Buffalo City yesterday Picture: MARK ANDREWS –

SA men in top two while three UK runners take women’s race.

Matt Trautman was a cut above the rest as he cruised to victory at the eighth Standard Bank Ironman 70.3 event at East London’s Orient Beach yesterday. Capetonian Trautman was in a leading group from the start and finished powerfully to lead in a South African one-two as Stuart Marais claimed second place.

Bart Aernouts, the 2010 and 2013 70.3 winner, had to settle for third place as he was unable to keep pace with the front-runners.

Trautman’s victory came as a surprise after he finished 11th last year while Aernouts and Marais were considered front-runners.

However, Trautman showed his class with a time of 4:04:34, one minute 29 seconds ahead of Marais and just over seven minutes ahead of Aernouts.

“I am really tired, it was tough out there and Stu gave me a run for my money. I am over the moon with the result,” Trautman said.

“It’s a tough course but I really enjoyed my race and will look to come back and defend my title next year.”

The men’s pro race kicked off at 6.45am and as the athletes emerged from their swimming leg it was three South Africans – Trautman, Marais and Kyle Buckingham – leading the way.

On the bike leg, Trautman pushed the pace and only Marais could stick with him as they both came into transition together, while Aernouts had moved up into third and Frenchman Cyril Viennot into fourth.

Buckingham was back in fifth and the top five were separated by five minutes as they started the run. On the first loop of the run Trautman and Marais came around shoulder to shoulder, but on the second Trautman managed to power home.

“Really happy with how I performed, I felt strong the whole race and Matt really put the hammer down on the bike and hurt my running legs, but I am happy with second overall,” Marais said.

“We had a good duel. Matt raced really well and I enjoyed the race with him.”

Viennot took fourth place. Germany’s Johannes Molden managed to pip Buckingham by seven seconds to take fifth.

In the women’s division, Britain’s Jodie Swallow again dominated the field to claim her fifth title in a row and smash her own women’s record at the same time.

Swallow is a legend at this event. She again took the lead from the start and powered away from any would-be challengers with a fantastic performance.

Her time of 4:30:53 was three minutes 37 seconds quicker than the record she set in East London in 2013.

She finished ahead of two compatriots: Susie Cheetham, who finished in a time of 4:41:49 to take second, and Parys Edwards, who finished five minutes and 56 seconds later to secure a Great Britain clean sweep on the podium.

“To win it five times is amazing. Every year has had a different challenge, but I really enjoyed my race today,” Swallow said.

“This race is one of the hardest in the world, but I really enjoy coming here and it is always a good start to the year for me.”

In the end, close to 3 000 athletes took on the daunting event, individually or in teams, and gave it their all.

In the early morning, the race almost became a duathlon as high winds and choppy seas saw organisers thinking of scrapping the swim, deeming it too dangerous.

However, the wind turned and the sea flattened out, allowing for a full race to be had by the pros and all the age-groupers involved.

-Ross Roche 

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