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3 years, 3 months AGO

James Cunnama, Onwards and Upwards!

June 15, 2012 09:24AM EST
James Cunnama, Onwards and Upwards!

I lost this race in the final few miles. It is a frustrating thing, to be that close and then lose. Of course you immediately look back at what cost you 14 secs. Sometimes it obvious, sometimes not so much. This time it really was – I dropped my chain going up a hill 30miles into the bike. It only cost me about 30secs (maybe less – its hard to judge when your adrenalin is pumping!) but it meant a hard 15-20km to catch the leaders again. Of course, things like that happen in races. And if you win you think nothing of them. But races are never just about going through the motions and getting to the finish line as fast as possible. Mostly they are about overcoming obstacles, and getting to the finish line as fast as possible whilst doing so.

But they say you learn more from your losses and there are plenty of lessons out of this one. Perhaps the biggest was the re-enforcement of the lesson learned at Wildflower a few weeks earlier – numbers in training mean little on race day. In Wildflower I had absolutely no training numbers to rely on before the race, and the race went well. This time I had one track session with Scott in New Jersey which went well, but that was about it – it certainly wasn’t smooth sailing since Wildflower. (On that note, a big thanks must go to Lawrence van Lingen. He’s my chiro in SA, and spent many hours on the internet and skype treating my knee from 10000km away whilst I was in New Jersey! Above and beyond.) That was a good lesson, and good for the confidence too. Winning would probably have been a better confidence booster, but we don’t want to be over-confident, do we?

The race itself was yet again amazing. It is one of the best, most enjoyable races I have done. The people are great, the course is excellent and the atmosphere has all of the excitement and adrenalin, without any of the stuffy seriousness which other races seem to involve. Rev3 tries to make their race for the family, and they do a very good job of it. No power-tripping marshals shoving spectators this way and that or ‘officials’ giving you long lists of ‘can’t do’s’. Just racing. They way it should be.

(Pro race video)

It was also great to have Jodie with me at the race. She was tasked with providing updates and travelled the course with Brian from PBN so I got to see her often (maybe less than she saw me, but one of us had to focus on racing!) It is her turn at Boise 70.3 this weekend. Unfortunately I am already in Leysin, Switzerland (and already training hard, of course!) so I won’t be able to return the favour, but I don’t think she’s very short on motivation right now anyway…

Next up is Challenge Roth on 8 July. Last year was a bad result (withdrawing on the run whilst in 3rd, due to injury) so I will be looking to put those demons to rest. Decisively. Right now, it is good to be back in Leysin, and with Doc – it has been a good 9 months since I had his beady eye watching my every move and giving me a general hard time… and I think I strangley missed it.

Onwards and Upwards!














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James started life in one of the major centres for endurance sport in South Africa, Pietermaritzburg. Coming from a very sporty family with both parents having completed multiple Comrades Marathons and Dusi Canoe Marathons, James discovered the joys of long distance running at a young age. While most of his peers were staying up late and sleeping in, James was doing the opposite and getting up on cold, dark winter mornings for pre-dawn runs with his mother’s running group (an eclectic bunch of much older runners called ‘The Pukers’) fuelling dreams of Comrades Marathon greatness. James soon discovered that the longer the race the better he fared, having a talent for endurance sports. James focused on long-distance running, completing half-marathons at the tender age of 16, easily winning the Junior category at a number of local races. In 2002 James moved to Port Elizabeth in order to study for a degree in Human Movement Science at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and at the same time turned his attention to middle-distance track in order to improve his speed over all distances. Ironically, it was this move away from Pietermaritzburg, one of the multi-sport capitals of the country, which led James to triathlon. In 2004 the Spec-Savers Half-Ironman came to PE for the first time and James was drafted into the volunteer ranks to assist in race-day organisation. The next year the real thing, the Ironman, came to town and James became more involved in the organisation. This first-hand encounter with one of the toughest single-day endurance events in the world opened the door to a new world and James was bitten by the notorious ‘triathlon bug’, and the rest, as they say, is history!


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