Spanish speed wins the day at Ironman Mossel Bay 

The beaches, byways and CBD streets of Mossel Bay were awash with athletes converging on the popular Southern Cape holiday destination for an annual race that can hardly be described as a “Sunday leisure pursuit”.

The format requires participants to complete a 1.9 km swim in the bay before hitting a 90 km cycling track with substantial ascents in mountains surrounding Herbertsdale. Upon completion of this leg, a 21.1 km (half-marathon) run constitutes the third and final challenge.

Each province enjoyed representation, with home-base Western Cape fielding the biggest contingent (972 racers) and Gauteng in second place (695). A handful of international contenders hailed from the UK (11), Belgium (seven), Germany (seven) and France (six).

And then there was the singular Spaniard who threw a spanner in the works: Javier Gomez claimed victory in the men’s pro category in a time of 03:51:46, with South Africans Matt Trautman (3:54:22) and Nicholas Quenet (4:00:09) sharing the podium.

Ironman Mossel Bay title defender Bradley Weiss (SA) withdrew during the bike section after struggling with health issues earlier in the week. Not so for ladies titleholder Emma Pallant-Browne, who substantially widened the gap during the run to blaze home in 4:21:24.

South African Magda Nieuwoudt came in second (4:28:02), with French athlete Eloise du Luart finishing third (4:45:02). In post-race interviews, all podium finishers gushed about the serene ocean, scenic cycle course, and how spectators along the running track carried them through the final leg.

Apart from seamless logistical support by local traffic and emergency services, hundreds of Mossel Bay locals served as volunteers and marshals and self-appointed cheerleaders to ensure that even the slowest of Ironman finishers felt like winners on the day. 

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This was only the second time that Mossel Bay had hosted the race, with other SA host venues including Gqeberha and Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape. A successful inaugural effort in 2022 resulted in the town being voted as one of the top three Ironman venues worldwide.

The now world-renowned triathlon originated in 1978 in Hawaii, when competitors debated whether swimmers, runners or cyclists were the fittest.

Navy commander John Collins proposed a new race to settle the argument. Three separate events — the Waikiki Rough Water Swim, Oahu Bike Race and Honolulu Marathon — were combined to form the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon.

Now, 45 years down the line, the Ironman Group has grown to become a global phenomenon with hundreds of events annually across 55 countries. And on Sunday, the powers and people of Mossel Bay combined to ensure an unforgettable race for nearly 2,500 participants.

Pictured above: Ironman 70.3 Mossel Bay ladies’ podium — SA-based British national Emma Pallant-Browne is flanked by Magda Nieuwoudt, left, and Eloise du Luart.

Source: Ironman South Africa

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