Home town win for Kyle Buckingham at IRONMAN South Africa

Kyle Buckingham wins IRONMAN South Africa 2018

3rd career IRONMAN title for Kyle Buckingham in Port Elizabeth

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Sixth after the swim and third off the bike, a consistent day of racing in Nelson Mandela Bay allowed Kyle Buckingham to move into the lead in the final third of the marathon and take an emotional win. He improves from eleventh in 2016 and fourth place last year to win the IRONMAN Africa Championship in his home town, joining Raynard Tissink as the only home winner of IRONMAN South Africa.

How it played out…

Racing started exactly as expected, with uber-swimmer Josh Amberger (AUS) setting the pace, solo, at the front. With Amberger out of the water in 46:24, Buckingham was part of a group of eight that followed approaching two minutes later – Peru Ildefonso (ESP), Giulio Molinari (ITA), Alberto Casadei (ITA), Maurice Clavel (GER), Eneko Llanos (ESP), Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) and making his Pro debut, Reece Barclay (GBR). Two-time defending champion, Ben Hoffman (USA) hit the beach in 49:17 with Kona bike course record holder and IRONMAN Wales champion, Cameron Wurf, a minute later.

By the midpoint of the bike, Wurf had blasted his way to the front, with Amberger holding second 2:23 back. Giulio Molinari – winner at IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire last year – was solo in third (+3:00), with Buckingham, Hoffman, Llanos, Ildefonso and Degasperi still together, five and a half minutes behind the leading Aussie.

Wurf continued to build his lead, a 4:19:45 bike split brought him to T2 more than 7:30 clear of Amberger, with the chasers (minus Molinari and Ildefonso), with almost ten minutes to make up.

The first 10km of the run saw Wurf running strongly and still holding a 6:49 lead over Amberger, but Buckingham was moving quickest from that chase group and now 7:48 in arrears. At the halfway point of the marathon, Wurf still held a lead of five minutes, but Buckingham was now almost on the shoulder of Amberger, with the home crowd going nuts.

Amberger held strong, and Buckingham had to work hard to close that gap and make the pass, but once he did, his sights were set on the only man in front, Cameron Wurf. The inevitable happened and Buckingham moved into the lead with 13km of running remaining. Despite looking very tired over the final kilometres, Buckingham was smart and ensured he was hydrated and fuelled, knowing he had a winning lead, which allowed him to enjoy the adulation of the home crowd.

Buckingham’s marathon split was 2:48:42, with Amberger coming home second via a 2:53:43. Germany’s Maurice Clavel produced a 2:54:01 run, which was enough for him to move past Wurf late on and complete the podium.

It proved to be a frustrating day for Reece Barclay. After his typically strong start in the swim, he was stung by a wasp on the bike and had to withdraw. Check out his plans below for dealing with this scenario in future races…!

IRONMAN African Championship, Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Sunday 15th April 2018
3.8km / 180km / 42.2km

PRO MEN

1st – Kyle Buckingham (RSA) – 8:13:00
2nd – Josh Amberger (AUS) – 8:16:01
3rd – Maurice Clavel (GER) – 8:18:51
4th – Cameron Wurf (AUS) – 8:20:07
5th – Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) – 8:23:09
6th – Jonathan Shearon (USA) – 8:23:57
7th – Alessandro Degasperi (ITA) – 8:25:10
8th – Giulio Molinari (ITA) – 8:25:29
9th – Philipp Koutny (SUI) – 8:26:18
10th – Eneko Llanos (ESP) – 8:31:56

DNF – Reece Barclay (GBR)

[CLICK HERE FOR THE PRO WOMEN’S RACE REPORT]