Ironman 70.3 South Africa 2009

January 20th, 2009 by

Fraser Cartmell Raynard Tissink Ironman 70.3 South Africa podium medals

So the racing has begun – 2009 is well under way and I’m delighted to have kicked it off with a 2nd place on Sunday in Buffalo City, East London. I started to get a little ahead of myself around 30k on the bike – got a tad excited shall I say, as I reckoned I could win it right there and then. I was riding super well, I thought I was flying, I had jumped away from the 2 others I was with and all I had in front was the lead car/clock. I should know better by now shoudn’t I? However 70.3 miles is a long way and it’s obviously not over till it’s over.

I had a really good fun lead up to the event; training had finished up nicely here in Stellenbosch early last week and then I just had a couple easy days Wed/Thursday coupled with travel to give the legs a little reprieve. Myself and Blair travelled up with Tim Don and his folks, who are in Africa for a holiday just now, so we had a nice and relaxed time leading into race day. Tim was in excitable spirits in anticipation of his debut half ironman, and that easy going atmosphere made the time fly by. We had a good laugh and were pretty much horizontal in terms of our relaxed state I thought.

Fraser Cartmell Ironman 70.3 South Africa Felt bike aero helmet

Back to old school for the sunnies!

We had a beach start and there were a couple of rolling waves to porpoise through to get into our strokes. I didn’t really mind about leading the swim on this occasion, indeed we were pretty sure one of the three Storm brothers would take up that position, and by half way Anton Storm had pushed on a few meters in front of me.

We had a bit of a choppy swim, but at least it was a lot more like the appropiate distance this year, and not closer to 1500m! As we got to the beach we stopped to wait a few seconds to ensre we caught the one wave breaking in – another Storm brother (Brad) caught it much better than me, and I ran up under the showers in 3rd. I was however aware of a sizeable pack forming behind, and it actually included all of the guys gunning for top positions – something like 8 or so.

I had a pretty smooth transition and was out in the lead on the bike by 3ks. Blair had run out onto the bike course to give us a time check on Raynard – we reckoned we could get up to 90secs relative to previous swims against him. However Blair was shaking his head after receiving a call from Tims dad at T1, telling me it was less than 30secs; ‘get ready for the train to come by’ he told me! Which is just what I did.

From 10 to 30k Raynard really pushed the pace, especially on the ups. We were riding as a 3 along with Brad Storm. Just shy of the turn point we were joined by the German, Bachor. ‘Mike the Mike’, who does the commentry at many many 70.3 and Ironman events round the world (and is also German) had tipped me to watch out for Konstantine Bachor, since he was apparently in great bike shape. I did my homework anyway, and found that he had jumped off the bike at the Roth Ironman last year in 3rd spot; which in simple terms means he can ride a bike!!

We had a solid headwind on the way out (and up) to the turn – and it took me 1hour 19mins. The return leg took approximately 62mins.- We were hooking! I must say I was feeling great. I am not much of a power rider; I struggle with big gear work in training (as Darren always dispaired at) but on Sunday I was riding the 53*11 gear (my biggest) with relative ease.

Between me and Konstantine we surged and pushed Raynard, sensing he was hurting. At times he seemed to drop quite far off the pace, but always managing to claw his way back to contact. Then, being the classy athlete that he is, just when we ourselves we starting to suffer, during the last 5-8ks into town, BANG! He dropped the hammer on the last ramp into East London. And as he powered past I saw his chain was still in the big blade,I thought ‘oh dear’. I had already dropped into the small ring in anticipation of the looming hill! And just like that he has 45 seconds into transition – a healthty buffer.

Fraser Cartmell Ironman 70.3 South Africa running 2nd place

just after I'd run into 2nd plce

Once onto the promenade and into my stride I realised the sun was HOT, and I didn’t feel so fantastic anymore…. I was in 3rd, the German was literally a surge away – something like 100m and Raynard that bit further again. But they might as well have been a mile up the road. It took me till 12ks to get going – much to the disgust of Blair on the sidelines; and in true talking to myself fashion (we all do it right??) I got going step by step into a decent clip. The lad on the mountain bike sensed it, and started to encourage, and within a couple Ks I had caught and dropped Bachor. 2nd was secure but Raynard was long gone. I crossed the finish line a couple minutes back, but a step further up the podium than last year.

Raynard was impressive on Sunday, and he deserved his win. I know what it is like to win at home, and it’s great fun – the crowd were cracking support for me, so I can only imagine how much of a lift it provided for him, and with his smart tactical racing he ensured his win comfortably in the end. Next year though!

A BIG thanks to all at the Triangle team for a fantastic race, and for looking after me and Blair so well. I look forward to returning next year to an even bigger event.  (photos courtesy of Triangle)

Fraser Cartmell Raynard Tissink Konstantine Bachor Ironman 70.3 South Africa podium