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Sanders, Kessler take Ironman Arizona
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Monday 16th November 2015

Tags  Amanda Stevens  |  Andrew Starykowicz  |  Arizona  |  Brent McMahon  |  Ironman Arizona  |  Julia Gajer  |  Lionel Sanders  |  Meredith Kessler  |  Tempe  |  TJ Tollakson

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Lionel Sanders and Meredith Kessler take Ironman Arizona 2015 titles

Fast times in Tempe see new names added to the Sub-8 and Sub-9 record listings.

Pro Men

A race is never dull when the USA's Andrew Starykowicz is racing. While Estonia's Marko Albert and defending champion Brent McMahon (CAN) headed the swim in 47:06, the hard-riding Starykowicz was two minutes back in a group alongside the likes of TJ Tollakson, Maik Twelsiek, Kevin Collington and Drew Scott. Already the owner of the fastest bike splits in 70.3 and Ironman racing, he was in rocket mode again and powered to an exceptional 4:03:35 bike split, a time bettered only once in Ironman history - and that was by himself two years ago at Ironman Florida. Next fastest on two wheels was Lionel Sanders, ten minutes slower with a 4:13:38.

Close on 13 minutes clear at T2, Tollakson was next in, with Sanders and Twelsiek following two minutes later, with former champion Jordan Rapp still in the mix too. After suffering a punture during the race, defending champion McMahon had fallen back to eleventh at one point, but fought back to sixth position at the end of the bike, 18 minutes back. He's a great runner though and there would be some tired legs in front.

Lionel Sanders started the run hard and was soon into second place and making ground on the lone leader, but there was a lot of ground to recover. While cutting significant time on that lead every mile, it still took until around 17 miles for Sanders to pass the now struggling Starykowicz - and he was able to push on and break the eight hour barrier. It would end up as a Canadian one-two, as putting the frustration of his flat tyre behind him, Brent McMahon (ninth in Kona this year), produced the fastest marathon of the day (2:46:25), to end up last than a minute outside the eight hour mark himself. TJ Tollakson took third, while Andrew Starykowicz had to dig very deep, but held strong after some tough moments to finish fourth.


Pro Women

The USA's Meredith Kessler was able to in part put the memory of a disappointing Kona campaign behind her, defending her 2014 Ironman Arizona title to collect another Ironman victory. Second in 2013 also, that was her third consecutive sub-nine hour clocking on the Tempe course and also represents a personal best time. It was a gun-to-tape win too, exiting the water in first place just a few seconds ahead of Sarah Haskins (USA), but two and a half minutes clear of Amanda Stevens (USA), Julia Gajer (GER) and Christina Jackson (USA).

After two flat tyres for Ironman debutant Haskins during the first lap, Kessler extended her lead on the bike to reach T2 almost 11 minutes clear of Stevens with Gajer a further 90 seconds back. While Stevens was able to claw back a couple of minutes on the run with a 3:06:39 marathon - the fastest of the day - Kessler would cross the line eight and a half minutes clear. Stevens went under the nine hour mark too - for the first time in her case, and can we well satisfied with her day, while 2013 winner Gajer had to settle for third this year.

Kathryn King finished as 17th Pro women (10:10:26).

Ironman Arizona, Tempe - Sunday 15th November 2015
3.8km / 180km / 42.2km

Pos Men Women
1st Lionel Sanders (CAN) 7:58:22 Meredith Kessler (USA) 8:44:00
2nd Brent McMahon (CAN) 8:00:57 Amanda Stevens (USA) 8:52:31
3rd TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:04:17 Julia Gajer (GER) 9:03:15
4th Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 8:05:56 Darbi Roberts (USA) 9:05:10
5th Jordan Rapp (USA) 8:08:05 Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 9:11:31

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