Ironman Frankfurt

When Jodie Swallow wins races, she typically leads from start to finish. After blasting through the swim in 46:09 and following that up with a 4:50 bike split, Swallow started the run with a cushion of over five minutes on Camilla Pedersen. Through the first loop of the marathon Swallow appeared to be ready to hold Pedersen off—the Dane was only able to gain a few seconds through the first 10.5 km of running.

When Pedersen started to make her move, though, things changed in a hurry. Down by four minutes at 21 km, Pedersen was seven seconds ahead less than 10 km later. Anyone who saw Pedersen’s struggle to the line will attest she didn’t exactly “cruise” to the win, but her 8:56:01 finish time not only put her in the exclusive sub-nine club, it also makes her the fastest IronDane (female, anyway) in history.

It’s a good thing she didn’t find herself crawling, because behind her and Swallow the tiny German running machine otherwise known as Kristin Moeller was flying through the run course. Moeller ran the first half marathon in 1:23, which would have put her right in the mix of the men’s race. The problem was that the Lanzarote champ started the marathon 23-minutes behind Swallow, so her 2:57 marathon split, while impressive, was only enough to get her to the third spot in the podium. Despite a leg injury that has only allowed her to run for the last six weeks, Swallow hung on for second and also broke the nine-hour barrier.

In the men’s race, early on it was Ironman world champ Pete Jacobs who was trying out his legs on the bike, but it didn’t take long before defending champion Marino Vanhoenacker made his move heading into the first hills, and his mark on the race. For the rest of the men the day became a battle of attrition: even cycling stars like Michael Raelert were dropped from the chase group that entered T2 about five minutes behind the Belgian. Included in the exclusive group that started the run together were Eneko Llanos, Jan Raphael, Jacobs, Andi Bocherer from Germany and Axel Zeebroek from Belgium.

Unlike Melbourne, where Vanhoenacker held the rest of the men off until the last eight kilometers of the marathon, the fireworks started much earlier. Raphael ran the first loop as though it was the only one he would be doing, leaving Llanos in his wake as he ran a seemingly suicidal pace. Vanhoenacker was passed before the end of the first loop and would eventually walk/jog to the finish in 19th spot.

Shortly after he took the lead, Raphael was passed by Llanos, who continued running a 2:34 marathon pace through the first half of the marathon before “slowing” to a 2:44 finishing time. The insane early pace was almost too much even for Llanos, who slowed for the third and much of the fourth before learning he might still be able to break eight hours. With three km to go, he picked up the pace and sprinted to the line to finish in 7:59:58.

Behind him Raphael hung tough for second (8:07:19) followed by a surprising Bas Diederen from the Netherlands, who ran his way to third in 8:12:07.

Ironman 70.3 Haugesund

Normally renowned as a great runner, Filip Ospaly shocked the pro field at Haugesund with a Viking-like ride on the bike. The former Olympic-distance specialist was first out of the water in 21:32. Right behind him was two-time Olympian Brad Kahlefeldt from Australia, who was followed just a few seconds later by Finland’s Panu Lieto. Then came Great Britain’s Ritchie Nicholls, the recent Ironman 70.3 UK champion.

Ospaly jumped on his bike and was never seen again thanks to the day’s fastest bike split (2:11:01). The 36-year-old made it to T2 with a comfortable lead of more than four minutes on the rest of the field. The Czech star’s 1:11:11 run time helped him set a new course record of 3:46:10. Nicholls was the runner up in 3:50:38, ahead of Kahlefeldt (3:53:42).

For the women, Great Britain’s Georgie Rutherford led the way in the water, setting the pace for a group of five that included Michelle Vesterby (Denmark), Catriona Morrison (Scotland) and the Norwegian duo of Mette Moe and Kari Lingsom. Rutherford was first out in 24:00 minutes, with Hütthaler finishing in sixth (24:52). It only took the Austrian a few kilometers of riding along the coastline of the North Sea before she was in front. By the time she was done, Hutthaler was four minutes ahead of Morrison and Moe. Hütthaler ran the half marathon in 1:21:22, which was enough to get her across the line in 4:12:11. Morrison had the fastest run, which got her to the line in second in 4:15:13 ahead of Moe (4:21:01).

WTS Kitzbuehel

Jodie Stimpson (GBR) followed compatriot Alistair Brownlee to win the grueling World Triathlon Series event in Kitzbuehel in one hour, three minutes and twenty two seconds, with it earning her first WTS title.

After finishing third in the last two WTS events (Yokohama and Madrid) and sitting third in the overall rankings, Stimpson made the step up to win the race billed as one the world’s toughest triathlons. Stimpson finished ahead of Emma Jackson (AUS) in 1:04:21 and Anne Haug (GER) in 1:04:34.

For the men, Alistair Brownlee proved yet again why he is one of the greatest triathletes of all time with another breath-taking performance to win ITU World Triathlon Kitzbuehel.

Brownlee hadn’t raced since winning in San Diego in April because of an ankle injury but blew away the field with an incredible display of endurance, winning in 55 minutes, 23 seconds on the new dynamic course that consisted of a 750m swim, followed by a 11.5km bike and a 2.5km run up the Kitzbuehel horn.

The highlight of Brownlee’s performance was on that tough bike. After coming out of the water in eighth place, he hit the front of the pack as a short downhill section turned into a gruelling 867m climb. Initially Javier Gomez (ESP) broke away with Brownlee but couldn’t keep up as Brownlee started pulling away, creating an astonishing 1km lead as the as the climb started to take its toll on the rest of the field.

Despite a huge lead, Brownlee continued to run hard and only let up with 200m to go to enjoy the adulation of the support with the finish line in sight.  Spain’s Mario Mola finished in 56 minutes even for the silver, while Switzerland’s Sven Riederer crossed 46 seconds later for third.