American breaks eight-hour barrier for back-to-back Ironman African victories
United State professional triathlete Ben Hoffman successfully defended his Ironman African Championship title, while Ironman World Championship winner Daniela Ryf took the honours in the women’s race yesterday at Hobie Beach in Summerstrand
Hoffman crossed the finish line just under eight hours with a time of 7hr 58min 39sec, which was an improvement on his time of 8:13:20 last year. Ryf finished in 8:47:01. Hoffman was behind in the swim and cycle legs, but went all out on the run. He was given a hard time by second-placed German Nils Frommhold, who finished nearly a minute behind him.
Frommhold, who won the race in 2014, clocked a time of 7:59:29.
Kyle Buckingham was the first South African to cross the finish line. He finished in fourth place, a major improvement from his 11th position last year.
“It may have looked like it was an easy second victory for me, but there is no easy Ironman,” Hoffman said.
“This course is challenging. I think the time was deceptive.
“I was surprised how fast I went, but I felt good.
“I came here well prepared. It was a major goal of mine to try and defend the title.
“I really love the race here. I wanted to come back and show the community that I was ready to defend the title.
“It was a special day. I just did my planning. I rode within myself and stayed in control and did well on the run.
“I tried to challenge myself. I wanted to find what I could do on the day.
“I really pushed the pace and, obviously, Nils was behind me. He never went away,” Hoffman said.
The 33-year-old American said this was the first time he had won an Ironman title twice in a row.
“This is my sixth Ironman win now and this is the first time I successfully defended an Ironman title,” Hoffman said.
He had previously tried to defend titles but without success, he said.
“I came second a couple of times. It’s really hard to defend an Ironman title – and to do it at a regional championship against a field of this calibre is extra special.
“Plus to do it under eight hours is the cherry on top,” he said.
Ahead of the race, Swiss women’s winner Ryf said she would be happy with just finishing the race, but the 29-year-old did more than that.
She clinched her first African championship yesterday.
Ryf said she did not expect to win, because she went into the competition with a back injury.
“I was very unsure if I could finish the race, because I pulled something in my back about 10 days ago,” she said.
“I could barely train. To be able to come out with such a performance is incredible.
“I was hurting in the swim. I could not really swim properly, so I just tried to not go too hard.
“On the bike it was the same. It was not easy, but eventually I was able to turn things around and get the body working.
“The run was very good. I am very glad that my body held it so well and I could show such a good performance.
“The crowd on the run course really motivate the competitors. They almost push you through the course.
“It’s been a great experience and I am very happy that I came here to South Africa,” Ryf said.
The leading results: Men:
Ben Hoffman 7:58:39 Nils Frommhold 7:59:29 David McNamee 8:07:30 Kyle Buckingham 8:08:57 Jan van Berkel 8:12:34 Women:
Daniela Ryf 8:47:01 Kaisa Lehtonen 8:52:25 Susie Cheetham 9:04:48 Astrid Stienen 9:12:10 Gurutze Frades 9:13:04