“Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them-a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”


James Cunnama is a professional triathlete from South Africa.​ He is based in Stellenbosch. He competes mostly in long-course, Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlons.

Birthday: 27 April 1983
Born: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Hometown: Stellenbosch, South Africa
Education: Bachelors Human Movement Science, NMMU, Port Elizabeth

James is one half of the (unofficial) fastest triathlon couple in the world together with Jodie Swallow, from the United Kingdom. They have been together for over 2yrs and travel and race together as much as possible. You can follow the Swallow here: www.Ifollowtheswallow.co.uk

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!


​Ironman Personal Best Time: 7:59:59 (Challenge Roth 2012)

2014 - Top Results

Ironman 70.3 South Africa - 1st

2013 - Top Results

IRONMAN World Champs, Kona - 4th
Ironman 70.3 Cozumel - 1st
Challenge Walchsee - 1st
Ironman Texas - 2nd
Challenge Roth - 2nd
Eagleman 70.3 - 2nd
Embrunman - 3rd

2012 - Top Results

Challenge Roth - 1st (7:59:59)
Rev3 Quassy - 2nd
Wildflower - 3rd

James Cunnama Blog: http://www.jamescunnama.net