Corbin, Frommhold Claim Ironman Arizona Crowns
The day was perfect for racing; cool in the morning and warming under a cloudless skyNovember 19, 2012
Images by Jay Prasuhn
At a young 26 years of age, Germany’s Nils Frommhold gave up on the Olympic dream to race in London earlier this year. Instead of laboring on the ITU circuit in the hopes of having another outside chance at making the start four years from now in Rio, he made the shift. His first Ironman attempt: Ironman Arizona.
One could say his attempt to get, as he says, a little experience, worked out nicely. After marking the key targets throughout the bike, Frommhold took hold of the race lead from T.J. Tollakson, and cruised in for his debut Ironman victory in 8:03:13
The women’s race was a true race of truth. A well-paced effort is always rewarded, and for Linsey Corbin, it was a textbook effort in overcoming early race leader (and good friend) Meredith Kessler. Corbin steadily built steam through the day and came enticingly close to her goal of going sub-9, claiming the win in 9:01:41.
The day was perfect for racing; cool in the morning and warming under a cloudless sky.
The early lead group in the men’s race consisted of a key collection Team Trek/K-Swiss members Fraser Cartmell of Scotland and Aussie Paul Matthews, Americans T.J. Tollakson, Joe Umphenour, Andy Starykowicz, Ian Mikelson, Kevin Everett and a collection of international talent including Paul Amey (GBR), Jan Van Berkel (SUI), Frommhold. Several hopefuls including Ironman Canada champ and Matthew Russell and former Ironman Arizona champ Jozsef Major were left out of the mix by slower swims.
Starykowicz, the Ironman Florida winner just two weeks ago, played his ace card as expected, blasting out to an early lead up Beeline Highway on the bike, carving over two minutes of buffer midway through the three-lap circuit during his solo effort.
With 30 miles left, Tollakson flew the coop from the now-whittled group including Matthews, Frommhold, Mikelson and Van Berkel in pursuit of Starykowicz. By T2, Starykowicz started the marathon with the day’s best bike split (4:16:31), but with just a one-minute buffer. By mile 3, Tollakson assumed the race lead from Starykowicz. But there was still lots of run to come—and a long-standing hip injury to consider.
Indeed, the hip trouble kept Tollakson from opening up his stride. “I knew going in it’d take a 2:50 marathon to win,” Tollakson said, “and I just couldn’t get to that pace.” Midway through, the unknown quantity from Germany—Frommhold—took a lead that would go uncontested the rest of the way.
“Oh, yes” Frommhold replied when asked if he was shocked at his victory Sunday. “I thought maybe a top five would be what I would hope for.”
Matthews held steady to his marathon pace, and was pleased with the result. “I’d talked to Crowie (Craig Alexander) a bit after Kona, because I felt I’d over-done it for that race. This one, I was a bit more rested, and felt fresher.” However, while feeling good, he was only matching pace with Frommhold. He issued a late charge in the final miles, but was only able to close to within visible distance on the straights of the run. A shelled Matthews would finish second over a minute back, while Tollakson too had a strong final few miles, and held off a surging Tyler Butterfield (BER) to take third.
In the women’s race, reigning Ironman World Champ Leanda Cave was true to her word that the day’s race was simply for validation. After a proper vacation after her world title, she was not in top form, evidenced by an atypical 54:54 swim, putting her over four minutes off pace from the early swim leaders Haley Chura (50:16) and Meredith Kessler (50:17). Cave would put in the requisite effort through the day, but no more to finish sixth.
At the front, Kessler quickly dropped Chura and forged ahead solo, managing her four-minute lead on good friend Corbin. After a year of crashes and injuries, Kessler was enjoying the day. “Y’know, this is my Kona,” Kessler said with a smile.
Behind the two on the early charge, the battle was swirling; Chura and Mirjam Weerd were fighting to hold onto top-five positions, while even further back, Great Britain’s Corinne Abraham was moving steadily forward. “I didn’t have anyone giving me splits, so I really had no idea where I was in the race,” Abraham said.
Kessler rolled into T2 with the day’s second-best bike split (4:53:41). But Corbin opted for a late-ride surge, and hit netted her the fastest bike of the day (4:51:34). “In the past I’d always been like ‘get to the front, get to the front,’ but I’d have a terrible last lap of the bike,” Corbin said. “This year, my coach said ‘let’s try to balance your effort,’ and sure enough, I was able to go harder on that last lap of the bike.”
Corbin’s late surge closed her to within 11 minutes off the bike. And 10 miles in, it Kessler was matching pace and looked to be headed to a victory. But after the midway point, her pace fell slightly, from high 6-minute pace to 7:30s. It was enough of a door for Corbin to slowly start taking back time. With just a few miles left, Corbin captured and passed Kessler, and with a day-best 3:05:54 marathon, moved forward toward the win.
Kessler finished second to Corbin exactly five minutes back. And that final battle for the final podium spot went to Abrahamson, who moved forward on a 3:11:44 marathon (holding off surging Canadian run specialist Sara Gross) to take third. Gross claimed fourth.
“Well, I guess I know what I’ll be working on this winter: that last half of the marathon,” Kessler said with a wink.
2012 Ironman Arizona
Nov 18, 2012, Tempe, Ariz.
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
- Nil Frommhold (GER) 8:03:13
- Paul Matthews (AUS) 8:04:58
- T. J. Tollakson (USA) 8:07:36
- Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:14:41
- Jarmo Hast (FIN) 8:16: 09
- Ian Mikelson (USA) 8:19:38
- Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 8:20:36
- Matthew Russell (USA) 8:30:50
- Christian Ritter (GER) 8:35:08
- Thomas Gerlach (USA) 8:36:05
- Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:01:41
- Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:06:41
- Corrine Abraham (GBR) 9:15:10
- Sara Gross (CAN) 9:18:04
- Mirjam Weerd (NED) 9:24:27
- Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:24:51
- Haley Chura (USA) 9:28:22
- Malaika Homo (USA) 9:28:40
- Charisa Wernick (USA) 9:30:27
- Kim Schwabenbaurer (USA) 9:30:54