Chrissie Wellington has rewritten the record books once again, this time at the Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa. The three-time Ironman world champion put on yet another impressive record breaking performance by shattering the Ironman South Africa bike, run and course records, while clocking the fastest Ironman time recorded by a women in an Ironman race, ever.
The 34-year-old exited the water in 51:40, which left her 2:45 in arrears to swim leader Amanda Stevens (45:55) and only 0:34 back to her fellow compatriot, Rachel Joyce (51:06), as she hit the beach. Wellington made quick work of eliminating her deficit and disposed the leading pair in the opening kilometers of the bike. In typical Wellington fashion, her lead on the bike increased with every stroke of her pedals. While stamping out an Ironman South Africa bike course record of 4:45:23, previously held by Natasha Badmann, she managed to build up an insurmountable 16:51 advantage over her closest rival, Rachel Joyce, and greater leads over Belinda Granger, Stevens and Diana Riesler as they entered the bike-run transition.
As if Wellington did not inflict enough damage on the women’s field on the bike, she set out a blistering pace on the three-lap run course in Port Elizabeth. When she eventually crossed the finish line, she recorded a 2:52:54 marathon, good for the fastest run split of the day for both the men and women’s fields and for an eighth-place finish overall. Raising the bar in terms of women’s Ironman racing is nothing new to Wellington, and that bar was nudged up once again in South Africa today as her finish time bettered the course record, held by Lucie Zelenkova, by whopping 42:36. As well, the Great Britain native’s finish time of 8:33:56, is the all-time fastest women’s time for a sanctioned Ironman event.
South Africa’s own, Raynard Tissink laid claim to another Ironman title in his home country by playing a game of patience throughout the day. For the duration of the bike, Tissink had to deal with Belgium’s Marino Vanhoenacker and German Andi Bocherer, who all took the lead at various points of the 180 kilometers.
On the strength of the fastest bike split on the day, Vanhoenacker carried a 1:40 lead over Tissink and Bocherer as they hit the transition and sprinted onto the marathon course. Behind the leading trio, South Africa’s James Cunnama, the 2010 Ford Ironman Florida champion, was making his patented charge towards the front along with the 2011 Ironman 70.3 Pucon champion, Daniel Fontana.
Vanhoenacker started to fade shortly after the first of three loops of the run, when Tissink capitalized the leader’s misfortune. Storming to the lead, Tissink now had a pesky Bocherer to contend with as Vanhoenacker was imploding and falling off the pace – he eventually withdrew from the race. Tissink had Bocherer, hovering behind him for the remainder of the marathon, but the German could not get any closer than one minute to the leader for the balance of the marathon. Tissink claimed his third Ironman South Africa title, breaking the course record by 20 minutes, with a finishing time of 8:05:36 based on a 48:53 swim, 4:19:41 bike and a 2:53:21 marathon. Bocherer hung on, coming in 3:00 behind Tissink for second, while the youngster, Cunnama rounded out the podium with the fastest men’s run split on the day.
Top 5 Pro Men:
1. Raynard Tissink, 08:05:36
2. Andreas Bocherer, 08:08:36
3. James Cunnama, 08:13:18
4. Daniel Fontana, 08:18:51
5. Cyril Viennot, 08:30:42
Top 5 Pro Women:
1. Chrissie Wellington, 8:33:56
2. Rachel Joyce, 9:08:23
3. Diana Riesler, 9:20:37
4. Sylvia Felt, 09:24:31
5. Amanda Stevens, 09:25:506.
Adapted from Ironman.com