The Road to Kona: James Cunnama

Five years after his breakthrough fourth place at the 2013 Ironman World Championship, and a year after cracking the Top 5 again, James Cunnama is gunning for his first Kona podium.

Is James fired up for his third shot at Kona? His Instagram feed provides an emphatic affirmative.

There are photos of him running solo around a Maui track. Turning the gorgeous Hawaiian landscape into a blur on his Cervelo P5X (“They tell me it's pretty…” he jokes). Putting in some serious pool time. And running across the lava fields alongside reigning Ironman World Champion Daniela Ryf.

It’s an impressive show of form given than James is mere months removed from taking a paternity leave to care for his new son and his wife, fellow Cervélo athlete Jodie Cunnama. A mountain bike crash certainly didn’t help his comeback — James fractured his ribs in nine places and ended up with a pneumothorax that put him in the ICU for five days — but it wasn’t long before the South African was back to swimming, biking and running. Having made a full recovery, James proceeded to punch his ticket to Kona with a third-place showing at Ironman Hamburg that included a personal-best bike split on his P5X.

“Pleased with the fastest bike split and highest NP/AVG power I've ever had,” James said after the race. “Onwards to Ironman 70.3 World Champs in South Africa, then Kona and the big dance.”