The season so far: James Cunnama
For James Cunnama, the last 16 months have revealed the highs and lows not just of triathlon, but also of life.
2017 was a banner year for the 35-year-old South African. In February he married fellow pro triathlete, and fellow Cervélo P5X rider, Jodie Swallow. He went on to triumph at Ironman Hamburg, Ironman 70.3 Weymouth and Ironman 70.3 Lanzarote, with the fastest bike split at all three races. Then came the capper: At the Ironman World Championships in Kona, James displayed his superb form by breaking into the Top 5 with a superb 4:21:03 bike split.
Then, as if on cue, life got in the way. Ten days before the birth of his new son, James crashed while training on his mountain bike. He fractured his ribs in nine places and ended up with a pneumothorax that put him in the ICU for five days. Being out of action for several months was of course a challenge for the new parents, but there was a silver lining. “One benefit of breaking your ribs 10 days before your son is born is that you have a lot of time at home to spend with him once he’s born!” James said. “For the first 10 days I could do little more than lie on the couch, and Jack was happy to lie on my chest for most of it too...I’m sure it won’t be long before he is swimming, biking and running…”
Thankfully, it wasn’t long before dad was back to swimming, biking and running. Having made a full recovery, James tested his fitness in the half-distance Durban Ultra Triathlon in March, and then proved it by winning May’s Sun City Ultra. Next up: Challenge Roth, the iconic Ultra Distance triathlon around its namesake German town.
James took the Roth title in 2012, and is looking forward to attacking the 226.2-kilometre course again on July 1 after a three-year hiatus. He’s going into the race after a month of “head-down hard work” at altitude in Switzerland, so another career high may well be just around the corner.
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