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© John Levison
Ironman 70.3 SA race report
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Sunday 17th January 2010


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(Check out our image gallery from race day HERE)

Ironman 70.3 South Africa 2010, Buffalo City this morning provided two very close and exciting races - with one major surprise.

Despite giving away home advantage, Fraser Cartmell was predicted by most in the know to be race favourite today, with James Cunnama the most likely to cause an upset. And on the surface, that is how it ended - but it certainly wasn't that straight forward.

Fraser exited the swim near the front, with the fish-like Anton Storm - one of three brothers racing - taking an expected small lead into T1. Out onto the bike, and a loose group of four formed, headed by Fraser, Brad Storm along with Anton and Sander Berk. The 'out' leg of the course is rolling / up hill, and while Fraser was pushing the pace, the others surprisingly were holding firm. At the halfway mark, the four was still close, while in no-mans-land, James Cunnama was working hard in fifth place, hoping those in front would fade.

The return leg is a net downhill and in theory easier, but proved to be tough into a strong headway. While the four split, Brad Storm was riding very strongly, and he traded the lead with Fraser, eventually leading into T2 by a few seconds. Fraser recorded the fastest bike of the day (2:23:48), and a swift transition saw him overtake Brad and hit the run course first. Fraser later said "I've been struggling recently to get into a good rhythm at the beginning of the half marathon", and for a while that appeared to be the case here. After lap one (of three), Brad Storm - not a a noted runner - had actually taken the lead back by about 30 seconds. With the mercury rising, were Fraser's chances melting?

Despite the heat, Fraser kept his cool and regained the lead as Brad began to fade. The problem now was James Cunnama. While Fraser was running controlled, James was running noticeably stronger behind, but would it be enough? Cunnama ended up with the fastest split (1:14:29), but Fraser (1:17:41) had done enough, and came home with a 1:40 gap to secure the win. A hard earned win, certainly tougher than I had expected and respect to James for putting the pressure on. After the race I spoke to Fraser "I trained really hard for this race. Nobody 'deserves' to win, but I put in the work to achieve it. It was tough, but a win shouldn't be easy should it - I'm very happy to win." Fraser will next be racing at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon. Fellow Brit and training partner Toby Jameson took sixth place, while Darren Treadaway was tenth pro, both running very well in what were tough and hot conditions on the run.

Fraser takes the win

In the ladies race, everyone has expected a head-to-head between German Sandra Wallenhorst and Czech Lucie Zelenkova. But, no one seemed to tell Marie Rabie that. The Beijing Olympian, and World Bronze medallist (2008 Under 23) was in her first 70.3 race, a relatively late entry and still riding her ITU draft-legal bike. A fast swim shouldn't have come as a surprise, but she was still in the lead at halfway on the bike, have duelled with Zelenkova out on the roads.

Despite giving up over five minutes on the swim, Wallenhorst was tearing up the roads on the bike, recording a split (2:36:53) eleven minutes quicker than Rabie (2:47:51) and nine over Zelenkova (2:45:15) to take a comfortable lead into the run. Wallenhorst is known as one of the fastest runners in Ironman with a sub-3 Kona time to her name, so surely the race was in the bag? Wallenhorst ran well (1:25:39), but was stunned when the short course specialist Rabie sped past her in the final few kilometres, reversing a five minute deficit courtesy of a 1:19:35 half marathon. A stunning win for the super intelligent Cape Town athlete who is on her way to Oxford University after winning the 2010 Rhodes Scholarship.

Marie Rabie wins

Pos Men Women
1st Fraser Cartmell (GBR) 4:07:54 Marie Rabie (RSA) 4:35:54
2nd James Cunnama (RSA) 4:09:34 Sandra Wallenhorst (GER) 4:37:01
3rd Brad Storm (RSA) 4:15:36 Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) 4:43:01

Another great event from the Triangle team in South Africa. A challenging course, fully closed roads, great organisation, excellent atmosphere and an exciting race too. Right, time to get ready for the awards (and after party...!)

(Check out our image gallery from race day HERE)


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