Triathlete refocuses on Kona

Kyle Buckingham finished sixth at Ironman Santa Cruz in California
Picture: Richard Huggard

Buckingham puts Santa Cruz disappointment behind him and eyes World Champs

Port Elizabeth-born professional triathlete Kyle Buckingham has expressed his disappointment following a sixth place finish in Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz in California at the weekend.

The former Victoria Park High School pupil said he had been chasing a podium finish, but the 2016 Ironman 70.3 Santa

Rosa winner struggled on the run and only managed to cross the finish line in three hours 40 minutes and 10 seconds.

New Zealander Braden Currie won the race in 3:33.57.

But Buckingham said he had put the race behind him and had now switched his focus to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, next month.

“No, I am not happy with sixth place. I came into the race wanting a podium finish or better,” the 34-year-old athlete said.

“I am still figuring out why my legs failed me as my training and lead-up had been so good and my fitness had improved since my last race in Ironman 70.3 Steelhead, four weeks ago.

“The weather on race morning was thick with fog and due to the conditions the race start was delayed by about an hour.

“The swim was cut short to 750m because of this. Once we hit the bike there was still a bit of fog but it ended up being a nice day.”

Buckingham, who finished fourth at this year’s Ironman African Championships, said his game plan entering the race was to swim in the lead pack and stick with them on the bike and then have a solid run. But his plan fell apart.

“I did come out with the front pack of swimmers and got on my bike only about 20 seconds behind the group,” he said.

“Out of the blue, there was a surge and I did not make the surge so I stayed with a few of the guys on the bike and tried to chase them down.

“I managed to close the gap and enter transition two. On the run, I was keeping to a good sol- id pace but the second half of the 21.1km, my legs started to

burn and I had to really dig deep and use every ounce of mental strength to push through.”

With Kona around the corner, on October 14, the athlete said his preparation had gone well so far.

“I have five weeks left to go and my preparations are on target,” he said.

“I am really ramping up the mileage now and have about three weeks of large amounts of work to get through.

“I am really looking forward to my race in Kona and to put to the test what I have been working towards in my training.”

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