Ironman Berlin 70.3

Three athletes dominated the women’s race at Ironman 70.3 Berlin. Well-known for her strong swim, German Katja Konschak took the lead in the water. Two-time Olympian Barbara Riveros was right with the German – both were a few seconds ahead of Canadian Rachel McBride. Konschak was first out of the water in 26:46 minutes, but Riveros was directly behind her and used her short-course prowess to fly through T1. Riveros led the race through the first kilometers of the bike, but was passed by McBride, who is amongst the strongest cyclists in the sport. Riveros seemed to be controlling her pace and was waiting for the run to make her move.

McBride had the fastest bike split (2:20:55) and pulled away from the rest of the women’s field, while Riveros remained close thanks to a 2:21:35 bike time. Off the bike Konschak was in third, but 10 minutes behind the leading couple. McBride lost her lead on the run as Riveros ran to the victory in 4:16:10 thanks to a 1:25:08 half marathon. Konschak got to the line in second after a 1:19:59 run split allowed her to pull ahead of McBride in the last few kilometers.

Three weeks before the (expected) battle in Frankfurt with Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs, Ironman 70.3 world champion Sebastian Kienle and defending Ironman European champion Marino Vanhoenacker, Michael Raelert had to deal with a group of very strong swimmers in Berlin. In T1 Raelert made his early but decisive move to the front. Flying through the transition he blew away from the rest of the field. The younger Raelert brother had the best bike split of the day in 2:04:14 and a four-minute-lead after only 30 of 90 kilometers. Then, in the run, Raelert sealed his victory thanks to a 1:16:52 split, finishing the fast, but challenging, course at the former Berlin Tempelhof airport in 3:46:56. Behind him Germans Michael Göhner and Per Bittner had a thrilling fight for second place. After running side by side for much of the run, Göhner managed to pull away over the final few kilometers for second in 3:51:30, followed by Bittner (3:52:14).
“I feel fine with my first race of the season,” said Raelert after winning in his new hometown. “It was a tough competition and, to be honest, I still have some work to do in the run.”

Formula One racer Jenson Button also had an outstanding race, setting a new 4:19:52 personal best for the half distance. That was a 10-minute improvement for the 2009 Formula One world champion from the time he set at Ironman 70.3 California earlier this year.

Ironman 70.3 UK

Great Britain’s Olympic-distance specialist Ritchie Nicholls continued the trend of success for athletes moving up in distance by taking his first 70.3 race at Ironman 70.3 UK. Nicholls was in fifth place (24:01) coming out of the water, together with 2010 champion Fraser Cartmell and another Olympian, Will Clarke. Cartmell, Great Britain’s Tim Don and Nicholls quickly formed a breakaway group that steadily moved away from the rest of the pro field on the bike. At the end of the stunning, but grueling, 90 km bike course, they had opened up a gap of nearly nine minutes. Don entered T2 in second position together with Cartmell and Nicholls, after a stunning bike time for this course: 2:32:46.

Nicolls took the lead early in the half marathon and kept his pace until the end of the race. With the day’s best run of 1:14:39 he pulled away from his closest rivals. Nicholls crossed the finish line in a brilliant time of 4:15:04 – 54 seconds faster than Philip Graves’ winning time in 2009. Don came across the line after 4:20:07 ahead of Cartmell (4:20:30), who was celebrating his 31st birthday with his third place.

In the women’s race, reigning champion Eimear Mullan from Ireland was in sixth place (29:00) entering T1. On the challenging bike course swim leader Holly Lawrence kept her pace and leading position. She had a split of 2:56:33, but as the women entered T2 Mullan was catching up thanks to the fastest bike split of the women’s field (2:55:08).

One of Mullan’s advantages during the run was her perfect course knowledge. She attacked on the last of three run laps to secure her victory. She crossed the finish line in 4:56:59 hours as the defending champion. Lawrence claimed second place in 4:58:01 ahead of Kristin Möller, who grabbed third place in 5:02:33 with the best run split of 1:25:47.

ITU European Championships

Ivan Vasiliev (RUS) continued his successful season at the 2013 Alanya ETU Triathlon European Championships on Saturday, winning his first European title. Alessandro Fabian (ITA) executed a strong race plan from start to finish for silver, while Mario Mola (ESP) smoked the run yet again to make up nearly two minutes off the bike for bronze, each claiming their first elite European Championship medals.

A speedy T2 saw the top eight head for the four-lap run course with a 1:44 minute lead. Vasiliev took immediate charge, clearing past all the men by the first run turn with Fabian trailing hotly. Behind them, Mola had already slashed 20 seconds off his deficit to come within 1:17 on the first lap.

Vasiliev’s early push paid off, as he gradually increased his lead. On the third lap, Fabian put on his running cap, attempting to reel in Vasiliev. But the Russian was too strong on Saturday and held his position to earn the European title in 1:42:09. Fabian crossed over seven seconds later in 1:42:16. But the battle for bronze began on the bell lap when Mola smoked the competition and ran himself into third in 1:42:22 despite starting the run nearly two minutes behind the leaders.

For the women, Rachel Klamer (NED) earned her first European title in a down to the line sprint finish on Friday. In a five-way battle for three medals, Klamer was the one who bumped up her speed in the final meters to beat out Great Britain’s Vicky Holland by just two seconds. Holland took silver, while Vendula Frintova (CZE) scored bronze to taker her second European Championships medal.

With pre-race favourites Ainhoa Murua (ESP), Rebecca Robisch (GER) and Emmie Charayron (FRA) off to a slow start, the lead pack seized the first lap to put what turned out to be an insurmountable distance between themselves and the chase group.

Determined to avenge her missed podium from last year, Jessica Harrison jutted out to the front of the competition early in the four-lap 10km run, with Frintova answering the challenging pace. But Harrison couldn’t maintain the rhythm and was overtaken by Klamer, Holland, and others by the midway mark.

The eventual medalists sat back to wait for the bell lap where Klamer and Holland perfectly timed a last-minute break. The duo sprinted away, with Klamer just outracing Holland in 1:55:43 while the Brit crossed over in 1:55:45. The win was Klamer’s fourth in Alanya, having won three European Cups here in the last four years.