Ironman South Africa Results Analysis

How tough were conditions at Ironman South Africa this year? Short answer: second slowest average Ironman finish times we've ever seen, 13:43.  Only Ironman St. George has proved tougher in our Top 25 Toughest Ironman Rankings. But this year's Ironman South Africa was a one-time aberration; in 2011, the average finish time was 12:53, more typical of IM SA results.

What made the 2012 race 50 minutes slower? To begin, the swim -- which came close to being canceled -- resulted in an average split of 1:33. It's by far the slowest we've ever seen in an Ironman, a full 10+ minutes higher than the typical average. And things didn't get any easier on the bike course, where triathletes averaged 7 hours to complete the 112 mile bike course. After facing crushing difficulty on the swim and bike courses, competitors finally caught a break, settling into a relatively normal 4:53 marathon.

Those who finished battled through a decidedly tough day that forced about 9% of swimmers to DNF after the swim, and another 4% DNF after the bike. Those who made it across the line did more than just finish an Ironman. They battled through one of the toughest races they'll ever compete in, they never gave up, and proved that overcoming nearly impossible obstacles -- unforgiving conditions -- is truly possible.