PNF's Post Race Comments from Ironman South AfricaNo, it's not Feb. 6th but to get it's own headline on Breaking News, that's the way we've posted it. Read on:
We finally got to speak to Paula after her 22nd international ironman victory (25th depending on who you talk to) at Ironman South Africa.
A happy PNF talked about having a "very steady day with no low points during the bike." According to Newby-Fraser, the race was hotter and windier than Hawaii feeling like Lanzarote without quite that much climbing. She said that as she was leaving the finish area - after waiting for her friend and now 35-39 Ironman South Africa age group champion, Julie Kling, she watched the finish area's scaffolding get blown over. A strong South Easterly was blowing throughout the day and had as much to do with the slow times as did the hot conditions. "It was hotter and windier than Kona", Newby said adding, "It made different sections of the run difficult because the head wind was so strong. I feel bad for the people still out there because it seems like it's just getting stronger as the evening wears on."
Apparently, Paula came out of the water 2nd woman behind an Australian woman (who we don't have the name of) but quickly got to the front of the race. She was challenged at the 75-mile mark when Anke Erlank, a 22 year old South African who races bikes professionally for a Cannondale sponsored road team in the U.S., caught up and briefly challenged for the lead. Paula rode away from Erlank and came off the bike with approximately 4 minutes on the youngster. As she went to the run, PNF steadily put time into the second place woman until she got to the point where she felt like she "didn't need to push." Finishing 13th overall, she did say how good it felt to feel like she was racing to her potential and actually enjoying it. "I really enjoyed the fact that everything felt so low key. I was a bit amped up this morning but when I got to the transition area, it felt really low key and fun. I don't think I'm ready to face the pressure and competitiveness of a race like Hawaii again", she said (haven't we all heard something similar before?). "Everything went well today. It wasn't spectacular (performance-wise) but I didn't have any of the problems that have plagued me in my last 4 or 5 races. No nausea during the run and no hydration problems." Paula said that she thinks her splits were (and these are only approximations and probably don't include transitions) about 52 minutes for the swim, 5:30 for the bike, and 3:27 for the run.
While we don't have a lot on the men's race Paula did comment that Yves Cordier had a "huge lead on the bike" and must have had an 8-minute lead coming off of the bike. "During the run though I could tell he was barely making up any time on me (it was a two loop run course) so I knew he wasn't running well relative to the other men in the pro field. Man, you should have seen some of the relay runners! They were flying!" In the end, Petr Vabrousek out lasted Jan Van Rooyen by a whopping minute and 30 seconds. You know Van Rooyen is cursing having taken a moment to pee or walk those two aid stations or sit down in the transition area or . . . The top four men were separated by only 11 minutes and 25 seconds!
Paula said the entire race was well run with the occasional "African idiosyncrasy". What would that be? There was some traffic on the bike course that made things interesting at times, there was no ice at the extremely well run and well stocked aid stations on the run (and temperatures were in the high 80's / low 90's) and, for some reason, you had to come to a complete stop on the run if you wanted any Coke. As she said, "It's difficult to explain what a fantastic job the organizers did in less that ideal circumstances. You should have seen everything getting blown away at the finish line this evening. I felt so bad for the organizers, finish line people and the athletes that are still coming in. The winds are standing people up on the run. When was the last time you remember the wind affecting the run times? Overall, they did a GREAT job."
On another note, Multi Sport School of Champions long time alumni (is there a camp she hasn't been to in the last 5-years?), Julie Kling, won her age-group (35-39) in a time of 12:50. CONGRATULATIONS Julie - now you get to go to Kona and do it all again!