Marino Vanhoenacker of Belgium and Jodie Swallow of Great Britain kicked off their 2012 season with win, taking today's 2012 titles at Ironman 70.3 South Africa Sunday in East London, South Africa.
The pair led similar race stories with both dominating the field virtually from start to finish. Vanhoenacker had to make up some ground after the swim but once ahead, never looked back while Swallow exited the water first and blazed a trail to the finish line, never offering up a sign of weakness.
Once the formalities were concluded, the piercing sound of the starter's gun sounded at 07h00 for the PRO male athletes. Edo van der Meer (NED) emerged on the beach in a time of 00:26:29 with the same look of determination he had entering the surf. Van der Meer was closely followed by Balazs Csoke (HUN) one second later, and Mark Threlfall (GBR) and Kent Horner (RSA) contesting for third, two seconds behind the leader. In fifth place upon exiting the water was pre-race favourite, Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL).
The early swim leaders were pegged back during the bike leg as Van Der Meer and Threlfall gradually fell back while Vanhoenacker, Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) and Domenico Passuello moved to the front of the pack. The mercury reached around 30 degrees in overcast and humid conditions which the athletes handled well. Vanhoenacker dug deep to come from behind and not only take the lead but managed to open a 6 minute gap between himself and his closest rival heading into transition, with a bike split of 02:18:00. Vanhoenacker was followed by the Italian Passuello, with a time of 2:20:22 who trailed by 4:39 when exiting the swim. Schildknecht made up third with bike split of 2:23:14.
The run leg never seemed to be a problem for race leader, Vanhoenacker, as he maintained his lead on the course to be the first to beak the tape and emerge as the winner of the Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa in a time of 4:06:25. Schildknecht claimed second place on the day with a time of 4:12:56 and Domenico Passuello brought up the top three time of 4:18:37. Once the three leaders exited transition, there was little doubt as to the outcome as positions remained largely unchanged. Kent Horner was the first South African male home in fifth place.
2012 Ironman 70.3 South Africa Results:
January 22, 2012 - East London, South Africa
|Pro Men Results||Time||
|Pro Women Results||Time|
The ladies' field unfolded in similar fashion to the men's with defending champion, Jodie Swallow dominating from start to finish. Swallow (GBR) illustrated her dominance, completing her swim in a time of 26:56 followed by Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) 28:42 and South Africa's and Andrea Steyn 00:31:17. Steyn was closely followed by compatriot Riana de Lange (RSA) four seconds later. Local women's favourite, Claire Horner (RSA) managed a fifth place out of the water in a time of 32:14.
The leading lady, Jodie Swallow maintained pole position after the bike leg with a time of 2:36:41 amassing a five minute lead over Zelenkova who came into transition with a bike split of 2:40:22. Last year's runner up, Tine Deckers (BEL) made her move on the bike leg to close the one minute gap between her and Zelenkova after the swim, to be the third lady into transition with a time of 2:39:39.
Once on the run, the result seemed a mere formality as the unchallenged Swallow came through for a commanding victory in a time of 04:39:01 successfully protecting her crown as the ladies' the Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa champion. Second position also remained unchanged as Zelenkova achieved a podium position coming in second in a time of 04:43:56. Deckers, despite struggling with back pain before the race, maintained her third position throughout the run to complete the ladies' top three in a time of 4:46:13. Claire Horner was the first South African ladies' finisher in a impressive fourth place amongst a talented field.
The fifth edition of the Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa lived up to its pre-race billing as athletes and spectators revelled in the day's atmosphere and those present witnessed the crowing of a new champion and an impressive title defence.
- 2012 Ironman 70.3 South Africa Athlete Tracker [via Ironman.com]
Check out our 2012 Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Results Grid where at a glance you can see the top three professional triathletes that made the podium at each of the Ironman 70.3 Series races around the world.
• Triumph & Tragedy as Manocchio & Stampfli Win Pucon 70.3
• Reed, Marangon Win Inaugural Ironman 70.3 Canberra
• Raelert, Rollison Win Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship
• Kienle, Cave Win 2011 Ironman 70.3 Miami