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Tissink and Ficker Win Inaugural Ironman 70.3 South Africa

The 2008 Ironman 70.3 Series season kicked-off today in East London with the inaugural running of the Ironman 70.3 South Africa triathlon race. This was the first of nine new races added to the 2008 schedule. On a perfect day, some 900 triathletes took on the challenge today with a 1.9km Swim, 90km Bike and 21.1km Run.

South Africa's own Raynard Tissink who a month ago took second place at Ironman Western Australia was the pre-race favorite on the men’s side, but it wasn't going to be easy with the likes of Frederik van Lierde and Carl Strom also of South Africa. On the women's side, Desiree Ficker stood out as the pre-race favorite.

Fraser Cartmell of Scotland was the first to exit the water in with a blazing time of 18:33, Tissink was ninth out of the water just a minute down. Lucie Zelenkova of the Czech Republic led the women out of the water with a time of 20:28, almost four minutes ahead of Ficker who was tenth. But that didn't matter as both Tissink and Ficker gained control on the bike and lead out on the run. Ficker built up a commanding lead on the bike and continued on the run to win the race, 12 minutes ahead of second place finisher Heidi Jesberger of Germany. It was a tougher battler for the South Africa native Tissink all the way the way to the finish line as he held off Frederik van Lierde of Belgium to win by just over a minute at the inaugural race.
2008 Ironman 70.3 South Africa Results:

     Women          Men  
1 - Desiree Ficker 4:46:46    1 - Raynard Tissink 4:03:02
2 - Heidi Jesberger 4:58:50    2 - Frederik van Lierde 4:04:25
3 - Lucie Zelenkova 5:01:59    3 - Fraser Cartmell 4:10:40
4 - Davera Magson 5:04:15    4 - Konstantin Bachor 4:13:37
5 - Lisa Baumann 5:04:23    5 - Carl Storm 4:21:40

Over 900 athletes (42 teams) representing 19 countries took part in the South African Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 race today which had 50 slots for the Ford Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida later in the year.

Additional race coverage can be found here: Ficker and Tissink takes top honors!
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