The new Ironman world record still belongs to the Belgians: today in Austria, Commerzbank athlete Marino Vanhoenacker crushed his compatriot Luc van Lierde’s 14-year-old world record by 4:29 minutes. At Kärnten Ironman Austria in Klagenfurt, Austria, crowds watched as history was made. (Don’t miss our gallery of images from the day.)
Vanhoenacker, 35, who placed third at last year’s Ironman World Championships, finished in a new world record time of 7:45:58 hours, besides winning the race for the sixth time in a row. The win counts as his ninth Ironman victory overall.
In 2010, Vanhoenacker missed the record by just 98 seconds. But today, the Belgian shocked spectators and triathlon fans the world over by shredding the old mark (7:50:27) of long-course men’s triathlon.
“You can’t expect to be on the sunny side of life all the time, but today I definitely was,” Vanhoenacker said in a Commerzbank Team press release. “This race surpassed anything in my sports life. There have been perfect conditions today, I was in perfect shape at the right time, my material was excellent again and the crowd in Kärnten was better than ever.”
After exiting the swim 30 seconds faster than he did a year ago (46:49), Vanhoenacker quickly took control of the bike ride. By the time he was done he’d put together an incredible 4:15:37 bike split, the second-fastest (to Jurgen Zack’s 4:14:54 set here in 2000) in Ironman history. Then came a 2:39:24 marathon run, and the fastest Ironman time ever recorded.
Michael Weiss, the Austrian hope to challenge Vanhoenacker, moved himself up to second through the bike, but never threatened for the lead, despite the fact that he finished in 7:57:39. Rounding out the top three was Estonia’s Marko Albert, who came across the line in 8:08:17.
Vanhoenacker is the first triathlete to win six Ironman titles in a row at one event, he is the best European long-course triathlete ever with nine Ironman victories, and he’s added the 44th victory to the record books of the now defunct Commerzbank Triathlon Team. He also clocked the second-best bike split in history in 4:15:37 hours.
Mary Beth Ellis arrived here in Klagenfurt as nervous as a first-time Ironman competitor should be. A late entrant to the race, Ellis came to Klagenfurt on the directive of her new coach, Brett Sutton. (One can picture that conversation: “You’re going to go and do Ironman Austria later this week … and you’re going to win it.”)
As has become the norm, Sutton’s instincts were bang-on, and Ellis led the race from start to finish. The two-time runner up at the Ironman World Championship 70.3 used her ITU World Cup swimming skills to get to T1 first, and never looked back. In fact, it wasn’t until the last 10 km of the run that the rest of the women (there were five Ironman champions competing in Klagenfurt today) managed to gain any time on the 34-year-old.
Were Ellis not in the race, Hungary’s Erika Csomor and Germany’s Diana Riesler would have had an incredible battle for the win. Instead they were relegated to a close race for second, which Csomor won, finishing in 8:51:34 to Riesler’s 8:53:34. Behind them were Heleen bij de Vaate (8:56:11) and last year’s champion Eva Dollinger, who improved her time by 13 minutes this year as she crossed the line in 9:05:13.
Results: Kärnten Ironman Austria
Top 5 Pro Men
1. Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) 7:45:58
2. Michael Weiss (AUT) 7:57:39
3. Marko Albert (EST) 8:08:17
4. Tom Lowe (GBR) 8:11:30
5. Stephen Bayliss (GBR) 8:16:47
Top 5 Pro Women
1. Mary Beth Ellis, USA (8:43:34)
2. Erika Csomor, HUN (8:51:10)
3. Diana Riesler, GER (8:53.34)
4. Heleen Bij De Vaate, NED (8:56:11)
5. Eva Dollinger, AUT (9:05:13)
Adapted from Ironman.com