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This Bahrain Endurance Team member and Cervélo P5 and P5X rider is a four-time Ironman champion who owns the best-ever performance by a South African — fourth place — at the Ironman World Championships.


Cunnama was born in Pietermaritzburg, one of the major centres for endurance sport in South Africa. Coming from a very athletic family, with both parents having completed multiple Comrades Marathons and Dusi Canoe Marathons, he discovered the joys of distance running at a young age.

James was completing half-marathons by the tender age of 16 and easily winning the Junior category at a number of local races. In 2002 he moved to Port Elizabeth 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 that led Cunnama to triathlon.


In 2004 the Spec-Savers Half-Ironman came to Port Elizabeth for the first time, and Cunnama was drafted into the volunteer ranks to assist in race-day organisation. The next year the real thing, the full Ironman, came to town, and Cunnama became more involved in the organisation. This first-hand encounter with one of the toughest single-day endurance events in the world hooked Cunnama, who less than a decade later finished fourth at the 2013 Ironman World Championship and was victorious in Ironman 70.3 South Africa alongside his future wife, Britain’s Jodie Swallow.


Since then, James has been a threat to win wherever he’s competed on his Cervélo P5 or P5X. 2016 was a banner year, with victories at the Alpe d’Huez and Embrunman triathlons, and a second-place finish at Ironman France sending James to his second Ironman World Championship.


Twitter: @JamesCunnama

Instagram: @jamescunnama

Facebook: @JamesCunnama

James Cunnama