As anticipated, Harry Wiltshire emerged from the 2.4 mile swim at the front of the lead pack, along with former champions Stephen Bayliss (2009), Dan Halksworth (2012) and, a few seconds adrift, Fraser Cartmell (2010). Hot on their heels, in an astonishing fifth place and competing in his first Ironman, was Greg Whyte, a modern pentathlon Olympian, hoping to qualify for the Ironman World Championship later this year.
As the lead pack headed off onto the 112-mile bike course that covers some 5,000-plus feet of climbing, Halksworth and Bayliss proved too strong for the chasing athletes and headed into T2 neck and neck. It wasn’t until the 12-mile marker that Halksworth made his move, gradually pulling away from his rival until he built a comfortable seven-minute cushion. Despite trying to come into the finish line a lap too early, Halksworth didn’t lose too much time and took full advantage of the moment to celebrate his successful defense in a time of 8:45:48 – almost 10 minutes faster than last year.
Bayliss held onto second place throughout the run, taking the runner-up position in a time of 8:49:25. Joe Skipper, meanwhile, had a blistering bike that moved him from eighth to third place as he exited T2. With Wiltshire out of the picture after taking a six-minute penalty for drafting, and Cartmell off track after taking a wrong turn on the bike, Skipper had a steady run to claim the bronze in 8:51:49 in only his second Ironman.
For the women, Lucy Gossage was too strong for the assembled pro field, leading the way from the outset. She was out of the water in 52:30, a minute ahead of Bella Bayliss, who was closely followed by top age-grouper, Rachael Hares, and fellow pros Jo Carritt and Amy Foreshaw. Gossage held her lead throughout the race, steadily pulling away and heading into T2 with an unassailable advantage. Gossage finished ninth overall, producing a top-10 marathon time with her 3:10:18 split. Her victory complements her Ironman 70.3 win in Ireland in 2011.
Jo Carrit had a strong marathon run, pushing herself into second position, overtaking a struggling Bayliss (a three-time former Ironman UK champion), who, in the final 2 km, was also passed by Foreshaw, who rounded out the podium in 10:28:27 for her best Ironman finish.
Ironman 70.3 Boulder
For three consecutive years, Joe Gambles has owned the Ironman 70.3 Boulder course. Now a Boulder resident, Gambles’ strong showing on the bike and fastest run split of the day earned him another Ironman 70.3 title. In the women’s race it was another impressive performance by Melissa Hauschildt, as she significantly outperformed everyone on the bike and run to capture the win.
In the men’s race it was Aussie youngster Jimmy Seear who upstaged the veteran chase pack of nine by over a minute, exiting the water in 23:18. Seear led the bike too and held a tentative lead of 17 seconds over an elite group of four that had Gambles, Paul Ambrose,Greg Bennett and Callum Millward bearing down him at the start of the run. Seear succumbed to the pressure early on the run to the two-time Ironman 70.3 Boulder champion who had scrambled to the lead in the first mile. No one could match Gambles’ pace during the first half of the run and his race-best 1:14:30 run sealed the deal for his third consecutive title win and another year of bragging rights with a finish time of 3:44:41. Bennett was solid all day and came up 1:43 short to claim second in an elapsed time of 3:46:23. Millward’s superb performance today was also a victim of Gambles’ dominance, finishing off the podium with a 3:47:53, 1:56 off the leaders’ finishing time.
For the women, 2011 Ironman 70.3 world champion Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) exiting the water in sixth place behind leader Amanda Stevens. But over the course of the 56-mile bike, Hauschildt went to the front of the race and held significant time on Stevens and Leanda Cave as the trio entered T2 and pulled on their running gear. No one could come close to matching Hauschildt’s eventual 1:22:38 run split as she went on the capture the title in Boulder with a 12:51 winning margin over Cave, who ran past Stevens in the late stages of the run to take second place with a time of 4:17:26. Stevens came in 33 seconds after Cave to claim the final podium placing.
Ironman 70.3 Steelhead
In the American Midwest yesterday, it was dentist and professional triathlete David Kahn who recorded race-best swim and bike splits to set up the second Ironman 70.3 win of his career. In the women’s race the lead exchanged hands a number of times before eventual winner Cait Snow acquired the lead in the last half of the run.
David Kahn (USA) drilled the swim in Lake Michigan recording a 26:20 that saw him with a clear lead of 37 seconds over James Hadley (USA) and pre-race favorite Christian Kemp (AUS). With 36 miles completed, Kahn was ruling the bike ride as he built up a five minute lead over a chase pack of five, who were all riding within seconds of each other but were over five minutes back of Kahn. Entering into T2, Kahn managed to pad his lead another 15 seconds over the final 20 miles on the chase pack.
Kahn headed out on the run strong, with Paul Eicher, Daniel Bretscher and Hadley matching his pace in the opening two miles. At five miles, Bretscher, now in second, had broken clear of Eicher and Hadley and clawed back a minute on Kahn who was still enjoying a four-minute lead. Over the closing miles, Bretscher made a gallant attempt at bridging the gap to Kahn but was running out of real estate. Kahn held off all the challenges being mounted behind him over the last half of the run and was crowned the 2013 Ironman 70.3 Steelhead champion in 3:55:57. Bretscher came up 1:31 short of the winner, finishing second (3:57:28), and Hadley completed the podium stopping the clock at 3:59:35.
In the women’s race, Radka Vodickova’s (CZE) 27:43 swim time placed her well over three minutes on Cait Snow (USA), Miranda Tomenson (CAN) and Melanie McQuaid (CAN). The remainder of the field faced an uphill battle as they surrendered well over six minutes to the leader before they even mounted their bikes.
Over the first half of the bike, Vodickova paraded the field over the rural roads of Michigan but saw her lead shrink to under a minute as McQuaid pushed hard towards front. Snow was also making inroads and found herself sitting comfortably in third, 2:40 back at 36 miles and chomping at the bit to get to the run. The rest of the field were fading back and out of contention as it appeared that the race would come down to Vodickova, McQuaid and Snow.
McQuaid grabbed the lead over the closing 20 miles and carried a 1:08 advantage over Vodickova as the lead duo dismounted their bikes. Snow entered T2 and hit the run looking comfortable but with a three and a half minute deficit to overcome.
Over the first two miles, nothing changed. Then over the next three miles, the dynamics of the women’s race changed as McQuaid faded to third with Vodickova vaulting into the lead; Snow in second charged hard towards the front of the race only 1:30 back. At seven miles, Snow was seconds back of Vodickova with McQuaid faltering and running in third over four minutes off the pace
Snow was just getting wound up as she raced into the lead at seven miles and built up a 1:17 lead over Vodickova as the pair ran through mile 10. Once again, Snow used her signature scorching run to capture the win with a 4:13:53 finish time, 2:51 better than Vodickova’s 4:16:44 second-place time. McQuaid gutted the race out over the final miles of the run to finish off the podium in 4:26:08.
Ironman Philippines 70.3
It was supposed to be a race between the “Kings of Kona” this weekend, but apparently Australia’s Courtney Atkinson didn’t get the memo. Atkinson (AUS) led from start to finish to break Pete Jacobs’ winning streak of three Ironman 70.3 Philippines titles in a row and, at the same time, continue his own winning streak. The two-time Olympian now remains unbeaten since he stepped up to long distance racing.
Once Atkinson started the run it quickly became apparent he wasn’t going to be caught, finishing in 3:58:07. The race for second and third was close, with six men in a position to grab the last two spots on the podium. Included in that exclusive group were Kona champs Jacobs (AUS) and Chris McCormack (AUS), along with David Dellow (AUS), Brent McMahon (CAN), Cameron Brown (NZL) and Josh Rix (AUS). Early in the run the group split with McCormack and McMahon taking the lead. Things changed a little after 13km when McMahon dropped back, Jacobs ran his way into second (3:59:09) and Dellow (4:02:22) passed McCormack for third.
For the women, it was a similar start-to-finish race for defending champion Caroline Steffen (SUI). But Steffen didn’t just take the win in 4:16:12, she powered home keeping the target on her back well out of sight of the chasing Bree Wee (USA) and Belinda Granger (AUS). In the end they duplicated the podium order from a year ago with Wee once again finishing in the runner-up position (4:27:49). Granger crossed in 4:33:50.
Steffen broke her course record set last year by four minutes and finished ninth overall.