Home country favorite Raynard Tissink held off a strong challenge by Scotland’s Fraser Cartmell and Czech star Lucy Zelenkova never let the Netherland’s Heleen bij de Vaate into the game as both took course record wins at Spec-Savers Ironman 70.3 South Africa in East London Sunday.
Tissink calmly faced down top swim starts by South African brothers Anton, Brad and Carl Storm, Cartmell, Belgium’s Frederick Van Lierde, and pre-race co-favorite Tim Don of Great Britain, the 2006 ITU Olympic distance World Champion.
On the bike, Tissink calmly measured surges by Konstantin Bachor of Germany and Cartmell, while Don struggled to keep pace with the long course men.
“There are so many things you can do to throw your competitors off, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the 21km run,” Tissink told IronmanLive.com.
After the first of two 6.5-mile run loops, Tissink established a definitive lead and cruised to the win in a course record 4:02:04, 2 minutes 3 seconds in front of Cartmell, three minutes more ahead of Bachor and 10 minutes ahead of Don, who clearly backed off for a 4th place finish and turned his race into a catered training day.
In the women’s race, Zelenkova showed no ill effects from a July injury that halted her swim training until three weeks before this race. She emerged from the water with some of the top men pros in 24:22, two minutes ahead of South African Sanmari Woithe, two more minutes ahead of another RSA competitor Corinne Berg, and an area code ahead of bij de Vaate, who won Ironman Arizona and the non-World Championship event at Almere last year.
Pushing on the bike and run, Zelenkova closed with a 4:46:40 record finish, 11 minutes ahead of bij de Vaate and 13 minutes ahead of the Republic of South Africa’s Claire Kinsley, the third and final woman to break the 5-hour mark.
Top 5 men
1. Raynard Tissink (RSA) 4:02:04
2. Fraser Cartmell (GBR) 4:04:07
3. Konstantin Bachor (GER) 4:04:50
4. Tim Don (GBR) 4:12:50
5. Kent Horner (RSA) 4:14:31
Top 5 women
1. Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) 4:46:40
2. Heleen bij de Vaate (NED) 4:57:00
3. Claire Kinsley (RSA) 4:59:26
4. Mariska Kramer-Postma (NED) 5:02:18
5. Diana Riesler (GER) 5:08:54