Jessie Donovan’s Come from Behind Win in South Africa

Photo from Ironman.com
Photo from Ironman.com

What does a pro do when she starts the run 20 minutes behind 1st place at Ironman South Africa? Well, for Vermonter and mom of three Jessie Donovan, the answer is put forth a spectacularly gritty run and never give up. Donovan broke Jodie Swallow with 10K to go and never looked back, finishing just over 6 minutes ahead. Swallow held on for 2nd with Lucie Reed finishing a strong 3rd. Now, I read what I felt was an offensive article saying that Swallow had some injuries and certainly this win wasn’t as spectacular as Natasha Badmann’s age defying win last year, but I say hogwash! It’s easy to give up when you face a 20 minute deficit against a formidable competitor such as Swallow. Even if Swallow’s injury was bothering her, certainly she wouldn’t risk her health or race if she didn’t intend to win. Even she says, “You pay for going hard but I also think that it is an investment for me long-term.” Donovan on the other hand, knew she was going to start from behind from the swim, but then patiently clawed her way back with a 2nd best bike and race best run. As soon as she starts to chip away at her swim time, she may be unstoppable.

Ronnie Schildknecht had a masterful race and won easily in 08:11:23 with Cyril Viennot and Bas Diederen taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. Race favorite Faris Al-Sultan had technical problems on the bike and had to drop out.James Cunnama, who as as local favorite wants to win this race one day had to drop out on the run. He said, ” To go for glory you have to risk spectacular failure in full public view. Ouch. Not my day.” Both Al-Sultan and Cunnama will be hungry to fight another day.

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9 thoughts on “Jessie Donovan’s Come from Behind Win in South Africa

  1. Incredible achievement and I agree reports making excuses for why someone did not win are just disrespectful to the efforts the winner put in. Only a champion can come from 20 mins down on the run and win by 6. I’m in total awe! I bet her kids and hubby are very proud!!

  2. I love come-from-behind runners that hunt-down the leader. So many triathlons are won or lost during this third discipline. I think that many athletes do not realize the importance of tenacious run training and what it can develop into. Jessie is a runner and a winner…end of story! Thanks for sharing!

    1. No problem! I agree—I see a lot of guys go gangbusters on the bike and then I pass them on the run. Pacing is so important. In this case, it sounds like it was catch up from the get-go. 🙂

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