Ronnie Schildknecht won it with a sizzling 4:22:01 bike split and Vermont mother of three Jessie Donavan overtook two-time world champion Jodie Swallow on the run to win her 3rd Ironman title in two years at Ironman South Africa.
Schildknecht’s 52:48 swim brought him out of Nelson Mandela Bay 8th, 3:20 behind a group of four that included Bas Diederen of the Netherlands (49:27), Berger Dominik of Austria (49:31), Kent Horner of South Africa (49:31) and Horst Reichel of Germany (49:44). Significantly, he was 30 seconds behind Cyril Viennot of France, who possesses a topflight sub-2:50 run.
On the bike, Schildknecht displayed the championship form that has brought him six straight Ironman Switzerland titles and a 4th at Ironman Hawaii in 2008. Schildknecht hit T2 in 5:14:49 with a 4:22:01 split that was 12 to 17 minutes faster than his nearest pursuers and gave him a 12-minute lead starting the run. Soundly beaten on the bike, a pack of five men arrived in T2 within a minute of one another –Viennot (5:27:35), Diederen (5:27:42), Dominik (5:28:21), Horner (5:28:30) and Horst Reichel (5:28:40).
Using his decade of top ranked international experience, Schildknecht played his cards coolly and conservatively, reeling off a 2:53:03 marathon that brought him to the finish in 8:11:24. Schildknecht gave back 4:28 to runner-up Viennot’s race-best 2:48:35 run but maintained a comfortable 8:27 margin of victory.
Diederen opened with a 2:51 lead over Viennot on the swim but gave back 2:58 during the bike. Diederen pulled out all the stops on the marathon, but his 2:48:48 split surrendered 13 more seconds to Viennot and left him 18 seconds behind the Frenchman at the finish.
Happy about his second place Cyril said: "I did a good swim, then Ronnie helped me to catch the leading group on the bike, and I stayed with this group till the end of the bike. And it was quite easy... After that I ran very fast. But the 3rd and 4th are very close, I had to be at the maximum till the end!"
1. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 8:11:24
2. Cyril Viennot (FRA) 8:19:51
3. Bas Diederen (NED) 8:20:09
4. Horst Reichel (GER) 8:22:34
5. Francois Chabaud (FRA) 8:29:30
6. Herve Faure (FRA) 8:34:20
7. Kyle Buckingham (RSA) 8:34:35 * M30-34
8. Berger Dominik (AUT) 8:43:53
9. Kent Horner (RSA) 8:44:32
10. Karol Djalaj (SLO) 8:45:42