The military division race at this year’s Ironman World Championships in Kona was no less thrilling than the battle in the pro ranks.  As with so many other contests this year, it all came down to the run. Here’s the after action review.

In the men’s race, defending champion Captain Scott Jones of the Navy exited the water five minutes ahead of his closest follower, Air Force’s Lieutenant Colonel (select) Scott Poteet. Lieutenant Colonel Hunter Hobson of the Marines was just a minute behind that, turning the opening stage of the bike leg into a dogfight between three fighter pilots.  As the race progressed past the 40-mile mark, however, Hobson began to lose ground on the leaders, making it look like it would be a one-vee-one situation.

Army Captain Robert Killian refused to leave the decision up to just two men, though.  Coming off a thirteen-minute deficit to Jones on the swim, Killian raced in true Army fashion—slogging through the “long fight” to get back even with the leaders before mounting a final surge to victory.  His 4:59:51 bike leg effectively put him into T2 right beside Jones and just three minutes ahead of Poteet.  Once they hit the marathon, Killian churned out 6:30 splits to put seven minutes between himself and Jones in the first five miles.  His pace backed off to 8:04 by the last eight miles, but by then the damage was done.  The others slowed as well, leaving Killian to take the men’s title in 9:30:50.  Poteet finished in second with 9:39:05, and defending champ Jones took third with 9:46:00. 

The women’s race played out in similar fashion. Army Captain Erica Chabalko emerged from the swim with an eight minute lead over Coast Guard Lieutenant Rachel Beckman and Air Force Captain Jamie Turner. The more experienced Turner and Beckman made up the time on the bike course, throwing down 5:46:26 and 5:49:20 times, respectively. That left Turner with just a three-minute lead over Beckman coming out of T2, but that was all she needed. Though her speed varied a bit over the course, Turner’s run splits were consistently one minute faster than Beckman, allowing her to win handily in 10:48:31. Beckman came in at 11:31:37, and Commander Kristin Barnes of the Navy managed to overtake Chabalko before the end to finish in 11:44:45. 

Don’t miss the author’s full preview of the military field in this year’s race.