Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth, South Africa Sunday 2 September 2018

 Mark Buckingham travelled to South Africa recently to take part in his first Ironman 70.3 World Championship for Pro Men. This was his second World Championship event of the season after winning a bronze medal at the World Duathlon Championships in July.

Mark’s training partner, double Olympic Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee was one of the pre-race favourites, along with Jan Frodeno of Germany who has an impressive track record as Beijing Olympic Triathlon Champion, World Ironman 70.3 Champion (2015), Ironman World Champion (2015 & 2016) and World Record Holder for the distance in 2016. Javier Gomez Noya of Spain himself a multi World Triathlon Champion and former Ironman 70.3 World Champion was another strong contender along with Sam Appleton of Australia who has won a number of Ironman 70.3 events in high profile fields .

Ben Kanute of USA was first to finish the 1.2 mile swim in Nelson Mandela Bay recording a time of 21.53, closely followed by Frodeno, Gomez and Brownlee, who soon got underway on the 56 mile bike course with Buckingham completing the swim about a minute behind the leaders in 16th place, 23.04. The 56-mile bike course proved challenging with the lead changing hands a number of times and the pre-race favourites all in contention, with six athletes recording times of just over 2 hours 4 minutes for the 90.1 km course. The nearest rivals were 4-5 minutes adrift and Mark Buckingham a little further back completing the bike course in 2hrs 15mins 3 secs, dropping to 20th place.

The German legend, Jan Frodeno moved swiftly through T2 to tackle the 13.1 mile run course, with Appleton, Brownlee and Gomez close behind. Ben Kanute and Peter Heemeryck of Belgian were just a little off the pace and Buckingham started his run well overtaking some of the strong cyclists. Frodeno opened a lead and Gomez initially went with him before going through a bad patch and Brownlee moved into second place. The athletes maintained their positions to the finish and Frodeno was crowned World 70.3 Champion with a super run time of 1.06.34 and a winning time of 3.36.31, Brownlee took silver in 3.37.42, his first defeat at this distance and Gomez won bronze in 3.38.27. Buckingham went well in the first 10k of the run, before suffering with a troublesome Achilles injury and lost three place in the last 800m finishing 17th in 3.55.50, with a run time of 1.13.37, just 4 minutes off a top ten placing!

Ironman World 70.3 Championships 2018, Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 2nd, Jan Frodeno  (GER) 1st, Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) 3rd


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