by Chanice Koopman and Lasheigh Lucas, photos by Craig Muller

South African Matt Trautman took his first IRONMAN 70.3 title after an epic battle with Stuart Marais, while Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow made it five in a row with a dominant display of racing.

Trautman edges victory after exciting battle

In a week when the weather watch was on high alert due to a blustery easterly, race morning was greeted with a slightly more timid ocean. In an evenly matched field, it was Matt Trautman (RSA) who exited the water first in 24 minutes and 37 seconds with virtually nothing separating him, Kyle Buckingham (RSA) and Stuart Marais (RSA). Two minutes back was Bart Aernouts (BEL), followed by Gerhard de Bruin (RSA) and Cyril Viennot (FRA).

The South African trio of Trautman, Buckingham and Marais headed out onto the bike with seconds separating them. The lead continued to change hands until the 45 km turnaround, with Trautman taking a slight lead. Further back, Aernouts and Viennot made up some time, bridging the gap to just over a minute from the front three.

Trautman was first into T2 with a bike split of 02:46:10, the fastest of the day. Marais followed in second (02:46:12), while Aernouts (02:49:19) and Viennot (02:49:21) managed to get ahead of Buckingham (02:51:01) who slowed towards the end of the 90 km ride.

Trautman and Marais continued their tussle on the run as the lead changed between them a few times. Going at an almost identical pace, and with no one giving an inch, an exciting finish was on the cards. Not until the 16 km mark did Trautman move ahead, eventually winning by a minute and a half in 4:04:34, with Marais in second in 4:06:03. Bart Aernouts rounded out the top three in 4:11:36… read more