SA Ironman wins in Florida
Florida - While the Springboks were on their way to victory against Ireland, South African tri-athlete James Cunnama was racing his way to victory in the Ford Florida Ironman at Panama City Beach. This was his third win in three US triathlons this season.
The 27-year-old Cunnama was first to the tape with a time of 8 hrs, 15 mins and 29 secs. The full Ironman course includes a 3.8 km swim, 160 km cycle and 42 km run.
Completing the open water swim in 14th place, Cunnama rode with the leading pack in the cycle leg until a puncture almost put paid to his race. However he was able to make a quick repair and was still able to finish the cycle leg in 12th place.
Cunnama is known for the strength of his running, so was always favoured to catch the leaders. But the run was never going to be easy with 12 pro men within 250 metres of each other as they set off for the marathon-distance run.
Cunnama ran a blistering 1hrs 18mins for the first half of the marathon which gave him the lead. His pace slowed in the second half but he never looked like giving up his lead.
The South African crossed the line 3 and a half minutes ahead of Portugal’s Pedro Gomez, with a time of 2hrs 43mins for the marathon leg.
"It has been a year of ups and downs, but my first Ironman title has certainly made up for it all!” said Cunnama. “I am ecstatic! Obviously also being unbeaten in the continental-US is an awesome title - the competition here is some of the best in the world, so results like this are huge! I look forward to my next visit to the USA."
Cunnama hails from Port Elizabeth but spends much of the year at international training camps with his team, teamTBB, under the guidance of Brett Sutton. This is only his second year as a full-time professional triathlete.
Cunnama’s success came at the end of a difficult year for the athlete. After a second place in the Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa in East London, Cunnama was forced to withdraw from the full Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa event in April with a stomach bug. His training in Austria was also disrupted by a cycling accident which left him slightly injured and his bike a right-off.
However things finally started to go right for Cunnama when he won France’s Alpe D’Huez Triathlon in July. The decision to head to the US to close out his season turned out to be the correct one when he won the Ironman 70.3 Austin in Texas (The 70.3 event includes the three Ironman triathlon events at half the distance.) and the Rev3 Cedar Point Triathlon in Ohio in September.