For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, more than 1,500 athletes descended upon Marbella to participate in Ironman 70.3 on Sunday. The competitors hailed from more than 60 countries, with the final podium filled by international athletes.
The overall winner in the men’s category was Patrick Cometta from Switzerland, with Britons Lucy Byram and Anouska Greenaway taking first and third place respectively in the women’s competition.
The first leg of the competition, a 1,900-metre swim in 20C water, began at 8am with a rolling start as the sun rose in Puerto Banús.
The equipment for the second challenge of the day, bikes for the 90-kilometre road-race, were waiting in Avenida Naciones Unidas. Competitors rode from Puerto Banús to Cártama, crossing part of the town of Marbella and passing through the municipalities of Ojén, Monda and Coín.
Having overcome the challenge of the hilly cycling route, the participants continued to the third and final hurdle of the day: a 21-kilometre run along the Marbella promenade, and around Puerto Banús.
The exclusive port area and La Concha mountain proved to be a beautiful backdrop against which to complete the gruelling challenge.
The flat terrain of the route, two laps from the La Victoria sculpture to the Marbella Club hotel, did little to combat the taxing combination of fatigue and temperatures reaching 30C.
Four hours, 22 minutes and 23 seconds after the pistol sounded, a jubilant Cometta crossed the finish line, turning round to greet the roaring crowd.
He stated “I perfomed characteristically well in the swimming part”, although he said that “my strength is in the cycling”. He had been able to gain one minute and 38 seconds’ advantage over his immediate pursuer, Geert Lauryseen, from Belgium. Third place went to German Lucas Worth.
Byram achieved a resounding victory in the women’s category, with her nearest competitor, Anna-Kisa Pietilanine from Finland, finishing almost 38 minutes later.
Her first time competing in the Costa del Sol, Byram stated that her best section was “swimming, with a great water temperature”, though admitted that she found the cycling very challenging.
The podium was completed by Anouska Greenaway, also British.