Kyle Buckingham held off a charging Bradley Weiss in a thrilling finish to IRONMAN South Africa 2022, with Matt Trautman making it a home one-two-three in Port Elizabeth.
Britain’s Joe Skipper had shared the lead off the bike but had to settle for fourth in a race that had a shortened swim of just 700 metres on account of choppy sea conditions.
Buckingham had moved into the lead in the first few kilometres of the run – and with less than 10km to go his advantage had moved to over a minute.
But Weiss unleashed a stunning finale to get within touching distance, just 11 seconds behind at the final time check with a little under 3km to go.
Despite frequently looking over his shoulder, Buckingham – the 2018 winner of the race – maintained his own form superbly and just had enough in reserve to claim a famous win in his home town.
An understandably emotional Buckingham spoke to Paul Kaye at the finish line and said: “I can’t believe that I’ve won it. That was the most stressful marathon I’ve ever had to run. The last 2km, I don’t know where I got that run from.
“This is for my Mum and Dad who I’ve lost [in 2018 and 2021) – that was all I was thinking of in those last 2km, to do it for them and my little boy. I didn’t give up and I’m just so happy to take the win again.”
The start was delayed until 7am local time in unusually cold conditions for this time of year in Port Elizabeth and the strong easterly wind made for choppy waters which led to a shortened sea swim of just 700 metres.
Not surprisingly that saw the front of the field bunched up, with less than five seconds between the first six out of the water, who were led by Evert Scheltinga in 7:54.
Skipper was 20th, but his deficit was under a minute (51 seconds), meaning he would soon be in the thick of the action on the bike.
Bike – Skipper makes his move
Indeed it was Skipper who surged through the field early on the bike but no sooner had he moved into the lead, he suffered a mechanical which looked like a dropped chain.
He appeared content to take his turns in the main group from that point onwards, which was soon whittled down to eight – Jesper Svensson, Skipper, Trautman, Nils Frommhold, Collin Chartier, Samuel Huerzeler, Buckingham and Weiss.
Svensson and Skipper got to T2 neck-and-neck but less than a minute covered the leading group.
Run – Weiss makes it a thriller
It was Buckingham who asserted early on the run and going into the final 10km he’d opened up an advantage of just over a minute from Trautman and Weiss.
But there was little doubt that finishing quickest of the South African trio was Weiss.
He bridged the gap to Trautman and powered straight past, with his sights now locked on Buckingham.
At the final turnaround, with just under 3km to go, the gap between the front two was down to 11 seconds, with a full minute back to Trautman.
But Buckingham wouldn’t be denied and crossed the line in 7:16:31, 19 seconds to the good.
IRONMAN South Africa 2022 Results
Sunday April 3, 2022 – 700m / 180.2km / 42.2km
1. Kyle Buckingham (RSA) – 7:16:312. Bradley Weiss (RSA) – 7:16:513. Matt Trautman (RSA) – 7:17:374. Joe Skipper (GBR) – 7:19:435. Collin Chartier (USA) – 7:26:436. Franz Loschke (GER) – 7:30:527. Kevin Maurel (FRA) – 7:31:168. Samuel Huerzeler (SUI) – 7:32:149. Sten Goetstouwers (BEL) – 7:36:3810. Jesper Svensson (SWE) – 7:40:54
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