Ironman Buckingham set to show his mettle

WELL PREPARED: South Africa’s Kyle Buckingham during last year’s Ironman Africa Championship in Port Elizabeth. Picture: RICHARD HUGGARD
WELL PREPARED: South Africa’s Kyle Buckingham during last year’s Ironman Africa Championship in Port Elizabeth. Picture: RICHARD HUGGARD

PE entrant feels ready after much preparation

PORT Elizabeth professional triathlete Kyle Buckingham will launch an assault on the Standard Bank Ironman Africa Championship title on the back of some solid recent form. He said finishing second in this year’s Ironman 70.3 South African race in East London had boosted his confidence as he prepared for Sunday’s event, which starts and finishes at Hobie Beach.

“Preparations have been going very well. I stay in PE, so I am used to the weather and the course.

“My plan is to finish much higher this year. I do not want to set a specific position and put myself under unnecessary pressure. I know my strength and what I am capable of,” he said.

Buckingham, who finished second in Ironman Canada last year, said one thing he took from last year’s race was that he needed to be patient.

Last year’s Africa Championship 11th-place finisher said: “People will see a different Kyle Buckingham on Sunday. I have improved on the swimming and run. I am still fast on the bike.”

He said winning the African Championship at home would be a dream come true.

“It might happen this Sunday or in five years’ time, but the plan is to win the race at home – that is what I have been working hard on.”

A new bike route has been introduced this year, though remaining at two laps of 90.1km.

The run route changes for the first time in 11 years, from three 14.06km laps to four of 10.55km.

Athletes will exit transition at the Blue Waters Cafe entrance to the Hobie Beach parking area, proceed past the old turnaround point at Driftsands Drive and turn at the Humerail intersection.

After the turnaround, athletes will run along Marine Drive and turn right into Admiralty Way, turn around at the island at the University Way junction and return to Marine Drive and transition.

Buckingham said he had already tested the new course and found it a little bumpy.

“One can expect a lot of traffic congestion, especially in the second lap of the race, because of the single line we will be using.

“It could be dangerous, so I hope the Ironman marshals are ready to assist,” he said.

For the event’s 12th edition, a total of 1 859 athletes (180 from the Bay), will take part in this year’s race. The field also includes 616 international athletes, representing 68 countries.

Although this year’s lineup for the professional athletes looks tough, with top 10 Kona finisher Boris Stein, Ben Hoffman from the US, Australia’s Tim van Berkel and South African duo James Cunnama and Matt Trautman making their way to the Bay.

But Buckingham, 33, is determined to finish in a better position come Sunday afternoon.

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