Starting the season earlier than initially planned, Seymour didn’t feel like she was firing on all cylinders but viewed the last minute opportunity to race as a chance to break up the winter training, blow out the cobwebs and of course was eager to go back home to see her South African family.
The off season effort Seymour put in working to developing her swim clearly paid dividends. Seymour was first out of the water, 1:33 ahead of Judith Vaquera and a whopping 2:32 ahead of her biggest threat, Emma Pallant (2nd at 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships), who was 3rd out of the water. “I have been working incredibly hard on my swim since the end of the 2017 season. My pre-season build up has been all about strength work in the gym and in the pool. I was glad to see some of that hard, consistent work show on race day.”
Seymour took her advantage from the swim and pushed to build upon it on the challenging bike course knowing that Pallant is one of the few on the 70.3 circuit who have the ability to out run her. “The 70.3 in South Africa is one of the toughest on the circuit and the bike course in particular is especially brutal. The course climbs 3000 ft of elevation the first 45km over rolling hills. The back half is a screaming descent but there are a few short hills you still have to power over. Additionally, there was rain and wind at the top of the course which made it even more difficult. I rode the entire bike leg on my own. In the last two years I have built up a reputation as a “runner” and this was a great opportunity to show off the months of focus and hard work I have put into my cycling. The solo mission was tough mentally but it gave me the opportunity to focus on myself and nail my fueling and pacing before heading out onto a hot and humid run.” After a 2:36:20 race best bike split, Seymour started the run with a 2:46 lead on Pallant, a previous track & field middle distance athlete for Great Britain.
While Seymour is known for running down her competition to break the tape first, she was well aware this was to be no easy battle. Pallant came close to caching Seymour for the win around the 11k mark but Seymour credit’s her history at the race and patience to stretch the gap back out again. “Emma is a world class runner and I honestly was expecting her to catch me early on. On the first lap, she was charging hard and at one point the gap was down to 12 seconds! One of my advantages was that I have done this course 4 times before. It has defeated me in the past but this time around I knew to take things out more steady and was able to hold my pace which was enough to hold onto the lead and win the race.”
Seymour and Pallant both put down valiant runs bettering the competition by over 5 minutes on the half marathon. Seymour’s 2nd fastest run, 53 seconds shy of Pallant’s split, was enough for her to take the win in her home country at IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa. Seymour’s winning time of 4:32:23, was 1:58 ahead of Pallant and 12:01 ahead of 3rd place Vaquera.
“This race holds a special place in my heart as it was my first ever 70.3. This race inspired me to turn pro, move to America and give racing my full attention. I am over the moon to WIN on home soil in front of the South African crowd, especially my family.”
IRONMAN 70.3 South Africa
Buffalo City, East London
1. Jeanni Seymour 4:32:23
2. Emma Pallant 4:34:21
3. Judith Vaquera 4:44:24
4. Susie Cheetham 4:48:11
5. Annah Watkinson 4:49:45