A dominant display by South Africa’s Stuart Marais put daylight between himself and the chasers while, in the ladies race, Parys Edwards of Great Britain toiled hard as the pair were crowed inaugural Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 Durban champions on a warm day in Durban.
WATCH: A seven minute highlights package of the event.
The pre-race favourite, Stuart Marais, lived up to his billing but didn’t lead out of the swim, exiting the water in third place, a minute behind leader Rudolf Naude (RSA) and Freddy Lampret (RSA). Behind the leading three, Gerhard De Bruin (RSA), Travis Johnston (RSA) and Michael Davidson (RSA) entered T2 with less than ten seconds separating them.
The bike would prove to be a test for the athletes, those behind Marais, who surged into a lead and continued to apply pressure on the chasers. Positions remained constant at 35km with De Bruin moving into third while Marais extended his lead to two minutes.
By the 55km mark heading back towards the city, De Bruin and Naude dropped back as Johnston and Davidson made a surge to enter the top three. Marais though, now had a seven minute lead and was looking imperious. Marais entered T2 with a bike split of 02:10:18 with the chase group all entering T2 more than nine minutes behind. De Bruin and Johnston were in second and third respectively, albeit with less than a minute between the five chasing athletes.
Marais kept it steady knowing he had the time cushion. At the pre-race press conference he predicted the race would come down to the run but that only held true for the chasing pack as Johnston struggled with a pulled muscle and quickly lost ground. Davidson and Naude took full advantage to move into second and third but there would be no catching Marais. Marais won his first IRONMAN 70.3 on home soil in a time of 04:00:07. Davidson and Naude, both achieving their maiden IRONMAN 70.3 podiums, made up second and third respectively.
In the Women’s race, it was no surprise to see Lucie Reed (CZE) lead out of the of the swim with more than two minutes on Andrea Steyn (RSA) with Parys Edwards (GBR) a further minute back going into T1. Both Steyn and Edwards are notable cyclists with each cutting into Reed’s early lead.
By the 35km mark Steyn and Edwards were both going well on the flat course and had passed Reed. From thereon in it was a straight battle between Edwards and Steyn who exchanged the lead until the 70km mark before Edwards made a move to take a lead of 01:09 into T2. Reed entered T2 in third, nearly four minutes back.
As so often happens, the race would come down to the run, well poised for both Edwards and Steyn. Chasing her first ever win, Steyn kept within touching distance for most of the first 10km but not until 12km did Edwards begin to pull away. The Brit had to work hard to drop the tenacious South African but did enough to finish with a six minute lead in a time of 04:28:41.
Top 5 professional men’s results
1. Stuart Marais RSA – Swim: 00:26:06 – Bike: 02:10:18 – Run: 01:18:38 – Overall: 04:00:07
2. Michael Davidson RSA – Swim 00:27:04 – Bike: 02:19:26 – Run: 01:18:54 – Overall: 04:10:20
3. Rudolf Naude RSA – Swim 00:25:04 – Bike: 02:21:20 – Run: 01:22:22 – Overall: 04:14:24
4. Freddy Lampret RSA – Swim 00:25:46 – Bike: 02:21:55 – Run: 01:21:52 – Overall: 04:14:41
5. Gerhard De Bruin RSA – Swim: 00:26:57 – Bike: 02:19:28 – Run: 01:29:57 – Overall 04:21:46
Top 3 professional women’s results:
1. Parys Edwards GBR – Swim: 00:30:29 – Bike: 02:26:45 – Run: 01:25:55 – Overall 04:28:41
2. Andrea Steyn RSA – Swim: 00:29:29 – Bike: 02:27:36 – Run: 01:29:54 – Overall: 04:32:40
3. Lucie Reed CZE – Swim: 00:27:15 – Bike: 02:33:29 – Run: 01:31:28 – Overall: 04:38:00