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Records smashed at Ironman Barcelona
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Monday 5th October 2015

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David Plese and Yvonne Van Vlerken win Ironman Barcelona on a record-breaking day

Welsh and Irish Ironman records also broken

While most of the triathlon world is focussed on the Ironman World Championships in Kona next weekend, for those Pro's that either didn't qualify or chose in some cases chose not to go - and of course for those looking to start their 2016 qualification points quest early - the seaside town of Calella on Sunday hosted a very swift, record-breaking edition of Ironman Barcelona. Originally Challenge Barcelona, the event was taken over by Ironman, with today's race the second under the M-Dot banner.

Men's Recap

The front of the men's swim saw a British one-two, and something of an Ironman Wales Deja Vu, as Harry Wiltshire's recognisable swim stroke lead out Tenby local Oliver Simon and a group of ten athletes in close contention. Among them - like Wiltshire, having also raced last weekend in Mallorca - was Ritchie Nicholls along with Challenge Weymouth / ETU Champion Marek Jaskolka (POL), Ruedi Wild (SUI) and one of the pre-race favourites, Per Bittner (GER).

On the bike, Wiltshire's day would come to an abrupt and early end courtesy of a rock which all but destroyed one of his tyros, while Nicholls' day finished early too around the midpoint of the ride - no details at the time of writing, but we suspect the effects of his fifth place last weekend would surely have been a significant factor. For Oliver Simon however, he was having a great day.

Bittner set the early pace on the bike, but it was veteran Andreas Niedrig (GER) from that lead swim group that would reach T2 with a small lead of 1:05 after a swift 4:17:46 bike split, with Bittner and Anton Blokhin (UKR) not far behind. After his typically front bike swim, for Oliver Simon - the perennial winner of his hometown 'Long Course Weekend' event - a 4:24:34 bike split was impressive, leaving him well inside the top-10 at T2, ahead of the likes of Ruedi Wild (SUI) and David Plese (SVN). Could he add a solid run to that too?

Niedrig lost time early in the run and soon Blokhin was closing in with Bittner not far behind, the pair quickly moving past to take the top two positions. Blokhin gained around a minute on Bittner which fluctuated little during the run - they would both end up with 2:56 marathon splits - but from behind, Slovenia's David Plese was making up ground fast and with 10 miles remaining the pass was made. Plese closed his race with a 2:43:38 marathon and in doing so earned his first Ironman title in a course record time of 8:02:20. Blokhin and Bittner completed the podium.

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Despite starting "to feel like I was away with the fairies and I could hit the deck at any minute because I bike a ridiculous time", Oliver Simon push on through his 'blow up' with 12km to go on the run to hold it together for a 3:19:28 marathon, 19th position and an 8:34:17 finish. The results - a new Welsh Ironman record. More on that HERE. That wasn't the only record broken, as Brian McCrystal (8:41:29) also improved the Irish record by almost four minutes.

Women's Recap

Finland's Kaisa Lehtonen was the first to emerge frm the 3.8km swim, with Great Britain's debut Ironman Vanessa Raw in second just 34 seconds in arrears. Pre-race favourite Yvonne van Vlerken was just over six minutes back on Lehtonen in third, with Ireland's Eimear Mullan a further 45 seconds in arrears. Choosing to miss Kona this season, Van Vlerken was looking to both start her 2016 qualification earlier and also to become the first female athlete to register ten Sub-9 hour iron-distance finishes.

Lehtonen gained time over Raw in the early stages of the ride while also maintaining her gap to the flying Dutchwoman. Over the second half of the ride Van Vlerken moved past Raw into second, but the gap to Lehtonen was closing slowly, the Finnish athlete riding very strongly. The final kilometres were key though, and by T2 that lead had been reduced to just 50 seconds. Raw reached started the run in third in close contention with the legendary Natascha Badmann who had biked a fantastic 4:40:22.

By 10km into the run Van Vlerken and Lehtonen were together, and by luck (a lap back), were running stride for stride with men's leader at the time, Anton Blokhin. Austria's Elisabeth Gruber had moved up through the field to join Raw in the battle for third with Ireland's Eimear Mullan not far back.

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Over the final 10km the experienced Van Vlerken was able to pull away slightly from the guty Lehtonen to take the title in a course record 8:46:44, while Lehtonen (8:48:40), Elisabeth Gruber (8:54:03) and Eimear Mullan (8:56:51) were able to add their names to the Sub-9 Club. That made it an Irish double as Mullan improved her own Irish Ironman record.

Italy's Martina Dogana (9:05:30) took fifth place, with Vanessa Raw (9:17:14) sixth in her first Ironman. After a horrible mid-season bike crash, she can be happy with that debut.

IRONMAN Barcelona, Calella, Spain - Sunday 4th October 2015
3.8km / 180km / 42.2km

Pos Men Women
1st David Plese (SVN) 8:02:21 Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 8:46:44
2nd Anton Blokhin (UKR) 8:05:50 Kaisa Lehtonen (FIN) 8:48:40
3rd Per Bittner (GER) 8:06:23 Elisabeth Bruber (AUT) 8:54:03
4th Mauro Baertsch (SUI) 8:10:25 Eimear Mullan (IRL) 8:56:51
5th Tim Brydenbach (BEL) 8:10:34 Martina Dogana (ITA) 9:05:30

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