James Cunnama, who last raced an ULTRA event in 2009, lived up to his pre-race billing as the favourite by winning the MiWay Sun City Ultra in convincing fashion at the Sun Resort yesterday.
Cunnama’s race weekend got off to an un-expected start when he un-packed his bike only to find that he had left his pedals behind. Fortunately for him, the resort was packed with cyclists who came out to watch and he managed to loan a pair from a non racer. The saying “when your wife is pregnant, you are also pregnant” seems to be coming true in the Cunnama household these days.
Previous Sun City Ultra winner, Rudolf Naude had mentioned that he was keen to test himself against Cunnama as he is regarded as one of the world’s top ultra triathletes. Naude was in no mood to go slow and he took out the swim pace over the 1st 400m hard along with powerhouse swimmer, Kent Horner. Cunnama however was having none of that and came from behind to swim past Glen Gore and Fred Lamprett and then hook the feet of Horner and Naude as the trio swam off into the distance.
Horner was out the water first with Cunnama 2 seconds back and Naude, trailing by 6 seconds. Lamprett had a solid swim to leave T1 only 60 seconds behind the leading three.
Once onto the bike, Cunnama set to work on his Cervelo P5X and opened up a quick lead over the chasing Naude and Horner. Lamprett was able to bridge the gap on the bike to the chasing duo as the 3 athletes tried to limit the damage Cunnama was un-leashing on them. Not too far behind these athletes was Gerhard De Bruin and Travis Johnson who were left in no man’s land a little off the pace on the bike after mediocre swims by their standards.
Cunnama came into T2 with the days fastest bike leg in a shade over 2:07 to put 7 minutes into his nearest rivals. No slouch on the run, he further extended the lead over a very tough undulating golf course run course by running an additional 6 minutes into Naude and Lamprett.
Cunnama broke the record by a country mile and came home for a well-deserved win in 3:48. Naude had one of this best races to date with a fine 2nd place amongst a stellar field to come home in 4:02 with Lamprett who started the run with Naude and was the defending champion from 2016, clinching the final 3rd spot podium place in 4:05. Horner to his credit, was equal to the chaps on the swim and bike and kept the boys on their toes during the run too nail home 4th spot.
A fantastic race with some fast times ensured that the MiWay Sun City Ultra 2017 will be remembered as a very close and very competitive race.
Full results: Finishtime Results