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Vanhoenacker & Zelenkova Endure Heat to Win Ironman South Africa

It was a clear, sunny and hot day in Port Elizabeth, South Africa for 5th running of Ironman South Africa today. Over 1,400 athletes took part in today’s race, the second Ironman race on this weekend's calendar of events. The mild temperature at the start of the race quickly heated up and made it a difficult day for some but Marino Vanhoenacker and Lucie Zelenkova were able to endure the heat and push forward on their way to victory and new course records.

Anton Storm started the day off with a blazing swim and a new course record of 45:22, he later finished the day in 20th place. Not to be out done was Zelenkova who had a fast swim as well and broke her own swim course record from last year with a time today of 47:40.

In the men's race Vanhoenacker took the lead on the bike around the 50km to 60km mark and continually extended his lead while the other behind him rotated positions, he finished the day with a 4:25:09 bike split. He was first into T2 and out on the run and was steady all the way to victory in the hot conditions. Michael Gohner who was fifth out of T2 and Petr Vabrousek who was 7th moved up to 2nd and 3rd respectively.

On the women's side Zelenkova started hot and never really looked back. Defending women's champ Bella Bayliss was in the mix, only 7 minutes down at T2 behind her Team TBB teammate Zelenkova. Bayliss gained ground initially on the run but ran out of steam and dropped out, leaving the race open to Rachel Joyce and Sonja Tajsich to catch Zelenkova or for second place. Tajsich has the fasted run of the day on the women's side but it wasn't enough to erase the almost 14 minute gap Zelenkova had on her at the end of the swim. This is Lucie's first Ironman title and is another with for Team TBB.
2009 Ironman South Africa Results:

     Men          Women  
1 - Marino Vanhoenacker 8:17:32*    1 - Lucie Zelenkova 9:16:32*
2 - Michael Gohner 8:32:01    2 - Sonja Tajsich 9:27:59
3 - Petr Vabrousek 8:36:07    3 - Rachel Joyce 9:37:00
4 - Stephen Bayliss 8:47:26    4 - Jacqui Gordon 9:46:26
5 - Andreas Venhorst 8:51:52    5 - Caroline Koll 10:08:35
 * = New Course Record

DNF's for the day include past winner and hometown hero Raynard Tissink, and women's defending champ Bella Bayliss.

David Orlowski, one of the original pioneers of the Ironman race concept back in 1978 was in Port Elizabeth today out racing with everyone. It's seems his participation this past October in the 30th Anniversary of the Ironman World Championship race in Hawaii has ignited his passion for the sport again. He now has a new outlook and objective, he wants to go to all of the Ironman races around the world before the 35th Anniversary Ironman World Championship event. Today's race is the start of his campaign. As of this post, he is still out on the run course.

Additional Race Coverage:
2009 Ironman South Africa Race Coverage and Athlete Tracker [via Ironman.com]
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