The pro men entered rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico at 6:50, with Olympians Filip Ospaly (CZE) and Axel Zeebroek (BEL) immediately securing the lead. Americans Tim O’Donnell and Andrew Starykowicz made some headway over the first lap of the two-loop swim, but, in the end, the initial leaders were first and second out of the water. Pedro Gomez (PRT) and Starykowicz were 1:45 back, with a large pack including Daniel Fontana (ITA), O’Donnell, and others 1:55 back.
As expected, it didn’t matter much what position Starykowicz came out of the water. He blazed out of T1 armed with his real weapon, the bike. In the defending champion’s own terms, he came to Florida today after a disappointing race in Kona to “get everything I can out of my body.” Once out on the bike, he did just that, leaving the rest of the field to clean up the mess.
Starykowicz’s domination was so complete that many surrendered the day to him long before the marathon even began. By mile 15 he’d taken the lead, and from then on he continued to dig into his own course record (4:04) mile by mile. By the halfway point he’d extended his lead to almost 10 minutes, and he hit T2 18 minutes ahead of a large pack including Kotsegarov, Kirill (EST), Christophe Bastie, Daniel Fontana (ITA), and others. His 4:02:17 was good for a new global Ironman bike standard.
Once out onto the run, the only remaining question was whether one of the short-course athletes behind him could chase him down. Spain’s Victor Del Corral turned out to be up for the challenge, narrowing his deficit to Starykowicz at a blistering pace of a minute per mile. Fontana went with him, as if chasing down a fugitive, making for one of the most exciting races Florida has seen for some time. At mile 24.5, the coveted pass came, and Del Corral soared to the victory on the pride of one of the fastest marathons in Ironman history: 2:37:29. Starykowicz’s 7:55:22 was good for a personal six-minute PR, and Filip Ospaly finished third in 7:58:44, rounding out a full sub-8 hour men’s podium.
In the women’s race, rookie pro Haley Chura dominated the swim as she did last month in Kona, exiting the water over four minutes ahead of the next closest competitors. Chura held her own on the bike, maintaining her lead until mile 40, when Austria’s Lisa Huetthaler overtook her. By mile 60, Yvonne Van Vlerken (NDL) had ridden her way into second and, by mile 70, both her and Dede Griesbauer (USA) had made a mark at the front of the women’s race.
Van Vlerken set out on the run with Huetthaler hot on her heels, but quickly took the race by the reigns. By the half marathon point she had harnessed a lead of almost 10 minutes, her chasers unable to keep up the fight. With a solid 3:01:55 run, Van Vlerken defended her title with an overall time of 8:43:07, shattering her own 8:51:35 course record. Ashley Clifford (USA) ran her way into second, with Erika Csomor taking third.
Before the race, Van Vlerken said she was immensely satisfied with her season, and considered this race “just like dessert.”
Aaron Royle and Emma Moffatt won their first Noosa Triathlon titles after very different periods of trying. The 23-year-old Royle won on his first attempt and Moffatt, after two World titles and an Olympic bronze in a decade of racing finally took the win at this Australian classic.
Moffatt screamed in fright when a water snake reared out of the water just before the start of the swim. By the end of the day, Moffatt posted a 1:58:41 time thatwas 21 seconds ahead of the runner-up, rising ITU star Ashleigh Gentle, and 3:01 ahead of two-time Ironman 70.3 World champion Melissa Hauschildt, who finished third.
Aaron Royle, the 2012 ITU Under 23 World Champion and seventh-place finisher in the elite category at the 2013 World Triathlon Series Grand Final, took the win with a 1:46:11 finish. Royle led an all-Australian men’s podium, 41 seconds ahead of runner-up Dan Wilson and 48 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Ryan Bailie.
Royle joins Olympians Craig Walton and Courtney Atkinson and former world champions Chris McCormack and Miles Stewart as a Noosa Triathlon winner.
Royle and Moffatt earned their second-straight wins after victories at the Nepean Triathlon in Sydney last weekend.