Records tumbled at the 2011 Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa with local hero, Raynard Tissink (RSA), successfully defending his title and Ironman goddess Chrissie Wellington (GBR) taking the women’s title.
Tissink broke the course record and the bike course record in the process while Wellington not only smashed the course, bike and run records but also broke her own world Ironman record to conclude a phenomenal performance.
The race was truly one to savour as a spectator as a spectacular battle emerged between the top three men, Tissink, Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) and Andreas Böcherer (GER) for most of the race.
Conditions were near perfect with a calm sea, a light cooling breeze and hot temperature at 26 degrees Celsius. Contrary to normal Port Elizabeth conditions, the breeze actually aided the athletes, cooling them down especially on the run.
The race was not without its casualties as favourite, Vanhoenacker, last year’s fourth placed finisher, Jason Shortis and his compatriot, Luke Bell (AUS) fell out of the race at various points.
The first athlete to exit the water was Andreas Böcherer, with a time of 00:47:42 seconds. Following close on his heels, was Daniel Fontana (ITA) and PE based, Tissink. The first female to exit the water, in a 4th position overall, was Amanda Stevens from the United States, with a time of 00:48:55.
Once out on the bike the lead changed hands on numerous occasions between Tissink and Vanhoenacker with Böcherer and Australia’s Luke Bell well in the mix.
The defining moment came after 20km into the run as Tissink took the lead and began to create a gap albeit of a few seconds. What ensued none would have predicted as the powerful Belgian suddenly withdrew from the race at the 26km mark on the run.
This left the stage wide open for Tissink although he still had to hold off a stern challenge from Böcherer and a final push from James Cunnama (RSA) who ran himself into third place.
To the sheer delight of the home crowd, Tissink not only broke the tape first but also broke Vanhoenacker’s course record coming home in a time of 08:05:36. Böcherer came in at second place 08:08:36 while Cunnama gave the crowd even more reason to cheer finishing third in a time of 08:13:18.
If the men’s race was a mental chess match for the lead, the women’s race had all but one outcome even before the starting cannon fired at the 07:00 start. The Ironman juggernaut that is Chrissie Wellington, fulfilled everyone’s predictions and expectations but gave the crowd something to remember, or should we say never forget, as she powered her way to an unbelievable new world record time.
Wellington exited the swim in third place in a time of 00:51:40 behind the USA’s Amanda Stevens 00:48:55 and Rachel Joyce (GBR) 00:51:06. After taking the lead on the bike there was never any other outcome as she continued to increase the gap between herself and compatriot, Joyce, throughout the race. Belinda Granger (AUS) made a play for the top three passing Stevens after the 120km on the bike.
In the end Wellington finished first in a phenomenal time of 08:33:56 followed in the distance by Joyce 09:08:23 and Diana Riesler 09:20:37, who claimed her first ever podium finish. The German climbed into third place early into the marathon as she had to usurp not only Granger but also Eva Dollinger (AUT).
The results for the top ten males and females, respectively:
1.) Raynard Tissink (South Africa) 08:05:36
2.) Andreas Bocherer (Germany) 08:08:36
3.) James Cunnuma (South Africa) 08:13:18
4.) Daniel Fontana (Italy) 08:18:51
5.) Cyril Viennot (France) 08:30:42
6.) Eduardo Sturla (Argentina) 08:32:52
7.) Uwe Widmann (Germany) 08:33:39
8.) Petr Vabrousek (Czech Republic) 08:40:36
9.) Trevor Delsaut (France) 08:41:57
10.) Balazs Csoke (Hungary) 08:43:06
1.) Chrissie Wellington (England) 08:33:56
2.) Rachel Joyce (England) 09:08:23
3.) Diana Riesler (Germany) 09:20:37
4.) Silvia Felt (Germany) 09:24:31
5.) Amanda Stevens (United States) 09:25:50
6.) Belinda Granger (Australia) 09:28:59
7.) Simone Benz (Switzerland) 09:31:21
8.) Dianne Emery (South Africa) 09:44:47
9.) Martina Dogana (Italy) 09:47:47
10.) Yvette Grice (England) 09:59:28