In his first year of going professional, South African triathlete Kyle Buckingham is fast showing the world he is a force to be contended with. Having come second at Ironman South Africa in April earlier this year, he has now taken his first Ironman win at the Lake Placid event in New York.
Ironman Lake Placid is nothing short of spectacular. Centred amidst the northern beauty of the Adirondack region, the course presents competitors year after year with a challenge few would be bold enough to accept. This year, the race was held on 27 July.
The pristine Mirror Lake is where the triathlon starts, with a 3,86km swim across its waters. Tomas Martinek from Czechoslovakia burst from the lake in first place, with a time of 48min24sec. Close on his heels the whole way, Balazs Csoke from Hungary trailed into second place by a mere four seconds. Buckingham was the fourth competitor to finish the gruelling swim, with a time of 52min4sec.
The Mirror Lake swim was followed by a 180km bike course. Although scenic, this portion of the triathlon winds through the Adirondack Mountains and puts the toughest to the test. To make matters even more intimidating, once on the bike, Buckingham was faced with stormy weather, which soaked all the triathletes to the bone. “The weather was not great, with heavy rain and thunderstorms,” Buckingham reflected. “There was also lots of wind.” This proved to be difficult for many racers, and also extremely dangerous.
Despite the awful weather conditions, Csoke led the first lap of the course. This did not deter Buckingham, who seemed to increase his effort over the second lap. “The first lap of the bike ride was tough,” Buckingham stated. “I had to fight quite a bit to get to second place, but I caught the leader [Csoke] at the start of the second lap, made an attack on the downhill and went for it.” Buckingham eventually passed Csoke, and rode a race best time of 4h43min47sec for the biking course.
The running portion of Ironman Lake Placid is no picnic either, pushing triathletes over 42km of challenging hills and rugged terrain. Buckingham dominated the course with perseverance, running ahead of the men’s field. “On the run I felt incredible,” he said, “there are a lot of hills on the route, I can definitely say it’s probably one of the hardest run courses I have ever been on. But I made it!” He managed to pull together a 2h57min49sec run, with Csoke coming in at second place over thirteen minutes later. Buckingham finished overall in 8h38min43sec to claim his first ever professional Ironman title.
When asked about his victory at Ironman Lake Placid, Kyle Buckingham was elated. “I am over the moon to have crossed the finish line in first place, it is such a dream come true! Thank you to everyone for their incredible support – I could not have done it without knowing that everyone was 100 percent behind me.”
The results for the top three males and females are as follows:
1. Kyle Buckingham (ZAF) 8:38:43
2. Balazs Csoke (HUN) 8:51:26
3. Jonathan Shearon (USA) 8:59:22
1. Amber Ferreira (USA) 9:31:28
2. Kim Schwabenbauer (USA) 9:38:14
3. Lisa Roberts (USA) 9:40:04
Ironman Lake Placid is an annual triathlon currently in its sixteenth year. For more information, go to the website.