David McNamee wins “brutal” IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella head-to-head

What's your sprint finish like after four hours of head-to-head racing? Well, David McNamee found out today at the debut of IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella

Chief Correspondent
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It doesn’t get much closer than that

David McNamee starts 2018 with a win. But only just…

Last week I wrote a feature commenting on how the ‘big dogs’ of men’s middle and long distance triathlon had seemingly started 2018 in fine form. Gomez (again today!), Brownlee, Sanders and Frodeno have all made their mark this year. Well, today Great Britain’s Kona 2018 Bronze medallist, David McName added his name to the winners listings in his first outing of the season too, at the debut of IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella.

Now, describing David as a ‘big dog’ may not seem consistent with his laid back, understated style, but that facts are that his results over the last two seasons put him into that upper tier of Elite athletes. Having only just turned 30, lots of scope for improvements too.

Today’s win? Well, after almost four hours of racing and “The most brutal head to head battle I have ever had”, he won by around six inches!

How it played out

Manuel Kueng (SUI) headed out the swim in a (surely short…) time of 18:15, with only Daniel Baækkegård (DEN) able to stay with him. McNamee headed a large group of 13 athletes around 30 seconds later, with the dangerous biking legs of Andreas Dreitz (GER) managing to stick with the tail end of that pack.

The young Dane was proving to be a strong rider, holding a half minute lead at the midway point of the bike over Dreitz, McNamee, Romain Guillaume (FRA) and Chris Leiferman (USA). Guillaume and Drietz pulled away over the second half of the ride, to reach T2 almost 2:30 clear their trio of chasers.

Dreitz pulled away from Guillaume on the run, but McNamee and Leiferman – seemingly locked together – were closing the gaps. By 10km they has passed the Frenchman and had closed the deficit on Dreitz to little more than a minute.

Dreitz was proving a tough a challenge, and it was only with 4km remaining that the catch was made. McNamee and Leiferman still running step-for-step. It looked like it would come down to a sprint. It did, they were so close that they have the same finish time… but the Scot just gets the winning verdict.

Laura Philipp proves her class

Third in the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, Germany’s Laura Philipp delivered on her favourite status with a six minute winning margin.

Third out of the water and just 14 seconds off the pace of swim leader Judith Corachan Vaquera (ESP), by T2 she was four minutes clear after a 2:39:18 bike split over the challenging course. She extended that lead with a 1:19:05 half marathon to dominate proceedings.

IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella – Sunday 29th April 2018
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km


1st – David McNamee (GBR) – 3:57:47
2nd – Chris Leiferman (USA) – 3:57:47
3rd – Andreas Dreitz (GER) – 3:58:42
4th – Romain Guillaume (FRA) – 4:01:44
5th – Adrian Haller (SUI) – 4:02:58

31st – Richard Westover (GBR) – 4:21:31

MARBELLA, SPAIN - APRIL 29: (l to r) Chris Leiferman of The USA, David McNamee of Great Britain and Andreas Dreitz of Germany stand on the podium after the Men's IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella on April 29, 2018 in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ironman)
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ironman


1st – Laura Philipp (GER) – 4:25:27
2nd – Marta Bernardi (ITA) – 4:31:28
3rd – Daniela Sämmler (GER) – 4:33:29
4th – Anja Beranek (GER) – 4:35:34
5th – Judith Corachan Vaquera (ESP) – 4:37:24

7th – Suzie Richards (GBR) – 4:52:54

MARBELLA, SPAIN - APRIL 29: Laura Philipp of Germany crosses the line to win IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella on April 29, 2018 in Marbella, Spain. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ironman)
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ironman
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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