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Lucy Charles, Susie Cheetham go one-two at IRONMAN South Africa

Chief Correspondent

Second career IRONMAN victory for Lucy Charles in Nelson Port Elizabeth


A fourth consecutive IRONMAN South Africa podium for Susie Cheetham


The news won’t come as a complete surprise – I wrote an article speculating on potential British dominance at today’s IRONMAN South Africa on Friday – but after second place finishes at the IRONMAN European and World Championship events in 2017, 24 year-old Lucy Charles went gun-to-tape to win IRONMAN South Africa on Sunday.

The first Continental Championship race of the season, the young Brit also broke the nine-hour mark for the second time, setting a new personal best for the distance of 8:56:06 ** in the process).

(** Note, while Lucy did clock 8:51:50 in Frankfurt last year, the 2017 edition of that race was held on a shortened cycle course due to construction work).

That result put Lucy in the distinguished club of British female athletes who have won multiple full-distance IRONMAN™ races. Find that list HERE.

The swim started in the expected impressive style; her 47:32 swim split – solo, from a Pro women only start – was only beaten by one man on the day, Josh Amberger (AUS) who swam a blistering 46:24. It was Amberger who lead the swim, on his own, in Kona last year.

More importantly, that gave Charles some significant gaps back to her chasers at T1: Rachel McBride (CAN) + 5:15, Charlotte Morel (FRA) + 5:25, before a group of six at + 8:15, which included Susie Cheetham, Emma Pallant, Linsey Corbin (USA), Saleta Castro (ESP),Judith Vaquera (ESP) and Katja Konschak (GER).

Midway through the bike and Charles was still leading. McBride was now nine minutes back, with Cheetham up to third, now ten minutes back. Pallant was still in contention, four and half minutes behind Cheetham, but her Ironman debut would end, the result of a pulled calf muscle during the bike leg.

By T2 and another 90km of riding, Charles dismounted her Specialized Shiv bike with an 11:29 lead over McBride, 12 minutes on Cheetham and almost 19 minutes minutes over Linsey Corbin (USA). With a 4:57:22 bike split, ‘swimmer’ Charles had added the fastest bike split too, though with a 5:01:54, the fast running legs of Cheetham weren’t completely out of the recking. Third, second, third over the last three years, Susie knows how to perform on the Port Elizabeth course.

Charles looked good on the run from the start, and never looked in danger of being caught. That said, she wasn’t going to add the fastest run split to her day. It didn’t take long for Cheetham to pass McBride and move up into second place, and as the time splits passed, she was chipping away at Lucy’s lead. By halfway, the deficit was 9:19.

That trend continued over the second half of the run. Cheetham would close out her day with a 3:00:47 marathon, but the 3:05:45 from Charles would be more than enough. She got to soak up the final kilometre and get the crowd cheering, taking the win by just under seven minutes. A British one-two, both can be very content with their days.

Great running from Linsey Corbin. A 2:58:17 marathon Tok her past Rachel McBride to complete the podium.

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


1st – Lucy Charles (GBR) – 8:56:06
2nd – Susie Cheetham (GBR) – 9:02:58
3rd – Linsey Corbin (GBR) – 9:07:10
4th – Rachel McBride (CAN) – 9:18:34
5th – Manon Genet (FRA) – 9:21:59
6th – Gurutze Frades (ESP) – 9:30:14
7th – Katharina Grohman (GER) – 9:35:07
8th – Martina Kunz (SUI) – 9:36:40
9th – Maja Stage Nielsen (DEN) – 9:37:21
10th – Annah Watkinson (RSA) – 9:38:30


DNF – Emma Pallant (GBR)

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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