3 April 2012
The 2012 Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa, taking place in Nelson Mandela Bay over the weekend of 20-22 April, will see nearly 6 000 athletes, including a record international contingent, taking part in four events over three days.
Port Elizabeth’s second Iron Girl South Africa Fun Run on Friday 20 April kicks things off. It is followed by the Vodacom Corporate Triathlon Challenge powered by Algoa FM and the Pritt IronKids on Saturday, 21 April. Those events serve as curtain raisers to the main event, the Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa on Sunday, 22 April.
The first time it was held in 2004, the half Ironman drew 420 athletes. That figure has since increased to 1 772 athletes for this year’s event.
“The race sees an increase in international participation, with 362 registered international athletes taking part this year, indicating the growing popularity of the race,” World Endurance South Africa
MD Keith Bowler said in a statement. “We are also delighted that 38% of the field are first-timers.
“The Spec-Savers Ironman South Africa brings a financial injection in terms of direct tourism spend estimated at around R50-million,” Bowler added. “This is not even mentioning media coverage values.”
Manhar Makan of title sponsor Spec-Savers commented: “An event of this nature, that started out with humble beginnings and that has grown in numbers, is most definitely a success.”
Speaking on behalf of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Thabo Masemula said: “Ironman has played a critical role in marketing Nelson Mandela Bay as a tourist attraction. Hundreds of national and international visitors make their way to Port Elizabeth to be a part of the thrilling atmosphere.
“We are extremely proud to be the only African city to host an endurance sporting event of this international standard,” Masemula said. “We appeal
to Nelson Mandela Bay residents to continue to turn out in their thousands and show their support to participants.”
With the popular Pritt IronKids also taking place during the Ironman Weekend, Ursula Quanson Key Accounts Manager for Henkel South Africa said: “Through Pritt IronKids we want to develop healthy bodies amongst children. We are delighted to have 15 disabled children participating in the first wave this year.”
A total of 48 different nations are represented in the Ironman field of 1 772 athletes.
South Africa’s James Cunnama, third in 2011, will be aiming for number one this time around. The Port Elizabeth local wil face tough competition from German Andi Boecherer, who finished second at last year’s event. Switzerland’s Mike Aigroz, who finished sixth at the 2011 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, is sure to be in the mix too.
On the ladies’ side of things, Germany’s Diana Riesler will stake her
claim for honours after finishing third last year. Former triple Ironman South Africa champion, Natascha Badmann of Switzerland will return for the event once again.
Spanish star Virginia Berasategui will be another contender to watch out. She finished tenth at the Ironman World Championships in 2011, and placed fourth in 2010.
South Africa’s Claire Horner will carry local hopes on her shoulders, while former South African, Jacqui Gordon, who now lives in the USA, could be a contender too.
South Africa’s Raynard Tissink took victory in the 2011 race, crossing the finishing line in a course record 08:05:36, which included a bike record of 4:19:41.
Britain’s Chrissie Wellington produced an exceptional performance to claim the women’s title. Her winning time of 08:33:56 would have been good enough to win the overall title in 2007. It was also an Ironman world record for the fastest women’s time, and her run time was the best in the
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