Port Elizabeth - It was a day to cheer for the South Africans and the British as Matt Trautman achieved his maiden IRONMAN 70.3 win after an epic battle with Stuart Marais, while Jodie Swallow almost inevitably made it five on the trot with an utterly dominant display.
In a week when the weather watch was on high alert due to a blustery easterly, race morning was greeted with a slightly more timid ocean. In an evenly matched field, it was Matt Trautman (RSA) who exited the water first in 24 minutes and 37 seconds with virtually nothing separating him, Kyle Buckingham (RSA) and Stuart Marais (RSA). Two minutes back was Bart Aernouts (BEL) followed by Gerhard de Bruin (RSA) and Cyril Viennot (FRA).
The South African trio of Trautman, Buckingham and Marais headed out onto the bike with seconds separating them. The lead continued to change hands until the 45km turnaround with Trautman taking a slight lead. Further back, Bart Aernouts and Viennot made up some time bridging the gap to just over a minute from the front three. Marais took the lead 3km from transition which Trautman soon regained, and was first into T2 with a bike split of 02:46:10, the fastest of the day. Marais followed in second (02:46:12) while Aernouts (02:49:19) and Viennot (02:49:21) managed to get ahead of Buckingham (02:51:01) who slowed towards the 90km.
Trautman and Marais continued their tussle on the run as they the lead changed between them a few times. Going at an almost identical pace and no one giving an inch an exciting finish was on the cards. Not until the 16km mark did Trautman move ahead to create some breathing space with a 36 second lead. Once clearly ahead, Trautman upped his pace to stretch the lead over the last few kilometres eventually winning by a minute and a half. Trautman finished in a time of 04:04:34 with Marais in second place with a 04:06:03. Bart Aernouts rounded out the top three in 04:11:36.
Jodie Swallow (GBR) made light work of the swim in less than comfortable conditions taking a commanding early lead as she exited the water in 00:24:40. Emma Bilham (GBR) exited the water exactly 2 minutes later with Lucie Reed (CZE) a further 9 seconds behind. Setting the bar high, Swallow was first onto the bike with a time buffer due to her strong swim. Bilham, Reed, Susie Cheetham (GBR) and Lynette Van Der Merwe (RSA) followed into T2. A second group consisting of Parys Edwards (GBR), Andrea Steyn (RSA) and Jeanni Seymour (RSA) followed.
With temperatures soaring to 33 degrees at some points on the bike, Swallow continued to power forward increasing her lead. By the 45km turnaround Swallow had already amassed an 8 minute lead over Bilham while Cheetham trailed by a further 16 seconds. Edwards and Steyn followed in a group two minutes back on Cheetham. Swallow proceeded into T2 having further stretched her lead to 10 minutes. With Steyn dropping off, Edwards managed to move within a minute of Bilham who was third into T2.
With Swallow in such a commanding position the real question was would she break the course record. Although she made things look easy throughout the day, she admitted that it was one of the tougher races she’s had on the course. Swallow finished in 04:30:53, breaking the course record by nearly four minutes to take her fifth consecutive Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa title. Susie Cheetham finished second nearly 11 minutes back in 04:41:48 while Parys Edward completed the British clean sweep in a time of 04:47:44.
Men’s Provisional Top 10
1. Matt Trautman - 04:04:34 (RSA)
2. Stuart Marais - 04:06:03 (RSA)
3. Bart Aernouts - 04:11:36 (BEL)
4. Cyril Viennot - 04:14:28 (FRA)
5. Johannes Moldan - 04:15:57 (GER)
6. Kyle Buckingham - 04:16:04 (RSA)
7. Karol Dzalaj - 04:24:12 (SVK)
8. Cool Hannes - 04:28:55 (BEL)
9. Swen Sundberg - 04:30:57 GER)
10. Jeremy Morel - 04:38:18 (FRA)
Women’s Provisional Top 10
1. Jodie Swallow - 04:30:53 (GBR)
2. Susie Cheetham - 04:41:48 (GBR)
3. Parys Edwards - 04:47:44 (GBR)
4. Emma Bilham - 04:55:30 (SUI)
5. Jeani Seymour - 05:02:02 (RSA)
6. Sarah Piampiano - 05:08:54 (USA)
7. Andrea Steyn - 05:20:03 (RSA)
8. Amy Forshaw - 05:24:42 (GBR)
9. Lynette van der Merwe - 05:28:03 (RSA)
10. Linda Scattolin - 05:36:23 (ITA)
Matt Trautman (Craig Muller)