70.3 South Africa titles go to Trautman and Seymour

IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa

Home victories in Buffalo City

Second place for Great Britain’s Emma Pallant

After seven years of back-to-back victories for Jodie Cunnama, there was always going to be a new look to the finish photo’s at IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa today. Could the women’s title stay in British hands? Close, but not quite…

Pro Women

South Africa’s Jeanni Seymour took the lead from the start, exiting the opening 1.9km swim in 26:38, to take a minute and a half lead over Judith Vacquera (ESP), with the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Silver medallist, Emma Pallant, almost three minutes down before reaching dry land. Susie Cheetham, a regular at this event for many years, was a further 25 seconds back.

Seymour still held the lead at the mid-point of the out-and-back course. Pallant had moved into second, reducing the gap slightly, but still 2:09 down heading into the second half of the ride. With Seymour (2:36:21) and Pallant (2:36:28) recording almost identical splits by the time the data was crunched at T2, that left the Brit with a 2:50 margin to try and close over the half marathon. Vaquera was a distant third, almost seven minutes behind Seymour, with Cheetham 8:44 in arrears and with a lot of work to do.

Pallant started to close the gap fast – possibly too fast? – at 6km in a deficit of 2:50 was reduced to 54 seconds, while at 11km Pallant was just 12 second down. Typically, such a charge results in the inevitable pass, but Seymour is a class act, winning a host of 70.3 races in 2017 and finishing eight in the World Championships in Chattanooga. Could she fight back?

5km later and the South African had reversed the trend and was 38 seconds clear and continued to run strongly to the finish to take the win by almost two minutes. Pallant had the faster run split (1:23:51 to 1:24:44), but Seymour had got her tactics spot on to take a big win on home soil.

Vaquera (1:29:49) and Cheetham (1:31:48) took third and fourth, but still some distance back from the close racing at the front.

Pro Men

The winner of this race in both 2015 and 2016, Matt Trautman has spent much of the past year working his way back to health and fitness after suffering a horrendous bike crash a year ago. As I commented at the time, Matt put produced a very strong fifth place at IRONMAN 70.3 Bahrain in November, and racing at home, would have had every motivation to continue with that journey. It would prove to be a good day.

Johan Ackermann (GER) headed the opening swim with a 23:54split, with Trautman one of five other athletes less than 45 seconds back when hitting the beach for the uphill run into transition.

Ackermann extended his lead over the opening 45km on the cycle, reaching the turn and building a 1:23 margin over Trautman, with Kevin Rundstadler (FRA) holding third place at 1:49. All change on the return leg, which would see Trautman hold a 1:36 lead at T2 over the recent winner of the Club La Santa Lanzarote Internationl Duathlon. The Belgian, a two-time Powerman European Duathlon Champion, set a race-best bike split of 2:18:36, which went some way to make up for his 27:30 opening swim.

As with the women’s race, Vandendriessche pushed hard over the opening 5km to close the gap to just 16 seconds, but Trautman returned the favour over the next 6km, to hold a one minute lead at halfway. Running strongly over the second 10km, Trautman continued his recovery with a big win, reaching the finish line almost two minutes clear of the Belgian.

Evert Scheltinga (NED) held off XTERRA World Champion, Bradley Weiss (RSA) for third place.

Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa, Buffalo City, East London – Sunday 28th January 2018
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km

PRO MEN

1st – Matt Trautman (RSA) – 4:09:19
2nd – Kenneth Vandendriessche (BEL) – 4:11:13
3rd – Evert Scheltinga (NED) – 4:12:13
4th – Bradley Weiss (RSA) – 4:12:58
5th – Justin Metzler (USA) – 4:14:34

The male podium! #IM703SA

A post shared by Matt Trautman (@mattytrautman) on

PRO WOMEN

1st – Jeanni Seymour (RSA) – 4:32:23
2nd – Emma Pallant (GBR) – 4:34:21
3rd – Judith Vacquera (ESP) – 4:44:24
4th – Susie Cheetham (GBR) – 4:48:11
5th – Annah Watkinson (NZL) – 4:49:45