DURBAN - Olivier Godart, 43, originally from Luxembourg but now based in Dubai, shrugged off the years to win Sunday's Standard Bank IRONMAN 70.3 amateur age-group race along the Durban beachfront.
With the city living up to its reputation for being the warmest place to be in winter, Godart cruised home in 4 hours, 8 minutes, 39 seconds (04:08:39) in the 40-44 years category.
He was 12 minutes ahead of second-placed Jeren Seegers, 32, of Johannesburg (30-44 years) who clocked in at 4:20:30 with Chris Bruchhausen, 24, of Cape Town (18-24 years) third in 4:22:30.
The first woman to finish the race with its 1.9km swim/ 90.1km bike/ 21.1km run format was 27-year-old Jade Nicole of Johannesburg (25-29 years) who was timed at 4:50:34, a good three-and-a-half minutes ahead of Gabriella Gioia, 23, of Pretoria in 4:54:01 (18-24), who was followed by Kelly van der Toorn, 43, of Cape Town one minute later in 4:55:02 (40-44 years).
Conditions were near perfect for the race, one of the most popular triathlons in the country, which attracted a capacity entry of 2 704 athletes.
The numbers that flocked to the swim start at uShaka Pier were so great, proving difficult to manage, that the race only got under starter’s orders almost half-an-hour late.
Men’s overall winner, Godart, exited the swim leg in third place, but soon obliterated the leading pair’s advantage in the opening few kilometres of the bike leg with the chasing pack expanding to 9 or 10.
Goddart specializes in sports management and says he likes nothing better than to be in the front during the bike leg so that he can control the chasers on the tough out and back undulating course to the Zimbali turning circle on the M4 North.
“The full road closures were only a pleasure,” said Goddart, who trains mainly indoors on treadmills because of the extreme heat in the United Arab Emirates.
“My lead was never seriously challenged. I was able to run a relaxed half-marathon on the Durban beachfront promenade.”
He had nothing but praise for the race, saying it was professionally managed while he manages to complete a programme of between 10 and 12 IRONMAN 70.3 events, as well as one or two full IRONMANS every year.
The women’s overall winner who was competing in the 25-29 years category, Nicole, said she had been very nervous before the start of the race, but once in the surf, which was as flat as a dam, she settled into it.
The personal trainer said this was only her third major Ironman event and her biggest win so far as she continues to focus long-term on next year’s IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in Port Elizabeth.