With the Ford Iroman Hawaii World Championship dominating the headlines this weekend you might expect us to be talking about age groupers making the top ten... ...and we will! But, there's a bigger story to tell and that's of a first-year GB pro athlete winning the race. And, no, Scott Neyedli didn't but Chrissie Wellington did!
Rather than repeat the whole race coverage, which is already online here, we though that we might look a little closer at just where Chrissie has come from. An accomplished age group athlete, she won her age group at the 2006 ITU World Championships, she took the plunge and turned professional in February 2007 after a trial visit to Brett Sutton's training camp in Leysin. Since then she has placed second at the Mekong River Asian Cup, won the Subic Bay Asian Cup, won the Alpe D'Huez long course (she was only entered for the short distance...) and then won Ironman Korea just seven weeks ago to get her Hawaii slot. Did she feature on anybody's radar? No! Not least because, as the IronmanLive commentators remarked, winning Korea doesn't really indicate that you'll win Hawaii - it's a late season race that, apart from the heat and humidity, hasn't exactly been a key indicator of potential in the past.
So, do we have a new Ironman star in the making? Well, anyone who wins at Hawaii gets star status irrespective of anything else - she'll be the face on the target next year in the same way that Michellie Jones was this year.
Was her performance a fluke like Luc Van Lierde's rookie win? Again, as the commentators remarked, fear of the known is often worse that fear of the unknown although we cannot ever recall seeing such a relaxed and controlled winning run where the pace barely changed and, if the figures are correct, a rookie got within 40 seconds of the all-time women's run record (Lori Bowden's 2:59:16 in 1999) and is only the second woman ever to go under three hours - corrections by email to email@example.com please...
Would she have won if Michellie or Natascha had still been in the race? Impossible to tell, of course, but if she had run the same race as she did without them her 9:08:45 tops Badmann's 9:09:30 in 2005 and Jones's 9:18:31 from last year so there's a distinct possibility that she would still be the champion even if they had raced.
After Chrissie's win at Korea the Editor wrote this: Whilst nobody can deny that Scott Neyedli won Sherborne or that Chrissie Wellington won Korea - or that for anyone to win an Ironman race is a major physical achievement worthy of significant respect - that single win doesn't in any way indicate that professional riches will be heaped upon them any day soon. If you need confirmation you only have to look at Bella Comerford, the other British winner in recent weeks. With five wins and several podiums on her palmares she has yet to hit the big time in terms of sponsorship or product endorsement. For athletes like these, winning is when the payday comes and they keep racing to keep paying the bills. The sad reality is that, for most professional triathletes, they would probably be better off working in an office or driving one of those buses... ...but, to a committed athlete, the money isn't why they do it. For that kind of attitude you probably need to be talking to a footballer! It will be very interesting to see how her fortunes change in the coming months - her kit was noticeably devoid of any sponsorship apart from, we think, that of the bank where she used to work.
We also have a full and exclusive interview with Chrissie when she spoke to Simon Ward after the race. You can also watch her finish on the IronmanLive site's 'Watch me finish' feature here.
Only two GB men beat her, Scott Neyedli and Nick Saunders, and we probably had the best overall pro performances since, well, probably ever with Leanda Cave hanging in for eighth and Yvette Grice turning in a respectable 10:37:51 as well. In the age group race the best performance was Jo Carritt's fifth in the 30-34, then Scott Balfour's seventh in the 60-64, two ninth's for Penny Edwards (50-54) and Fi Ford (35-39) with John Mergler getting 10th in the 45-49 category, apparently with a broken foot! We also scored the last official finisher with Pete Dalkin sneaking in with 6:30 to spare. Peter Norman and Arnaud Picut missed the 17 hour cut-off and we would love to know why Declan Doyle had a 51 minute T2... UPDATE the bandages at the finish tell the story, apparently he crashed on the bike and the time was spent patching him up for the run.
Elsewhere in the race, and you understand that we are just cherry picking here, it was probably a race too far for Hilary Biscay who we watched to 20th place in her eighth ironman-distance race of 2007; she was second at both Sherborne and Wisconsin and also comes from the Brett Sutton camp, and Laurent Jalabert just has to learn to swim better; he came out the water in 1145th, motored his way up to 105th on the bike and then ran a 3:10:08 for 76th place - who says cyclists can't do triathlon well?
||Chris McCormack (AUS) 8:15:34
||Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 9:08:45
||Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:19:04
||Samantha McGlone (CAN) 9:14:04
||Torbjorn Sindballe (DEN) 8:21:30
||Kate Major (AUS) 9:19:13
||Tim DeBoom (USA) 8:22:33
||Joanna Lawn (NZL) 9:26:47
||Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) 8:23:31
||Rebecca Preston (AUS) 9:26:55
The other major international race this weekend was the final of the Lifetime Fitness series at the US Open Triathlon in Dallas. Only a couple of GB Pros were on the startlist, Paul Amey and Julie Dibens. We don't have the full results yet but Julie did phone through to say that she had ended up with second place behind Sarah Haskins. Mirinda Carfrae was third and an ailing Emma Snowsill was fourth - apparently the rumour is that she's not been well since Beijing. (There's a lot of sickness about this weekend...) In the men's race, Greg Bennett sewed up the series and the massive $300,000 bonus cheque with a win ahead of Filip Ospaly and Bevan Docherty. James Hadley, one of the Team Bath athletes was 14th and Paul Amey was 19th. Full results and splits are on the US Open website: www.usopentriathlon.com
Back home in the not quite so pleasantly warm waters of a lake, the Forest of Dean Sprint saw wins for Jon Rawlings (Tri Team Glos) in 1:03:10 and Hazel Owen (Tri Coaching UK) in 1:17:41. Full results are here.
The White Oak Tri Squad put on the Fast and Furious Duathlon with victory going to Chris Neal (Larkfield Tr) in 1:08:30 and Suzy Sivapitchai (Tri Sport Epping) in 1:19:09. Full results are here.
Down in the New Forest the Avon Tyrrell Short Duathlon was won by Lee Piercy (Primera) in 1:03:35 and Laura Southwold in 1:15:43. Full results are here.
The Devon Duathlon saw wins for Jon Parkinson (Torbay Tri) in 1:25:40 and Helen Parkinson (Torbay Tri) in 1:32:59. Full results are coming, we hope, but there is a list of finishing times on their website.
The Marlow Striders ran a test event for their planned Marlow Duathlon and, apart from needing to sort out the way they do their results, seem to have done a good job in attracting a quality field. Jez Cox (Planet X) took the win in 1:35:05, ten minutes ahead of regular rival Ian Birch, while Jenny Shorrocks (Handy Cross) also had a fairly comfortable win in 1:51:35. Full results are here.
One of the bigger running events of the Autumn is Human Race's ASICS Kingston Running Festival and in the 8.2-mile race the victories went to Tom Kingsnorth (Thames Harriers) in 0:45:19 and Angela Hibbs (Claremont RR) in 0:50:32. In the 16-mile race the winners were Tony Lashmar (Victoria Park Harriers) in 1:34:25 and Laura Cowley (Herts Phoenix) in 1:41:05. Full results will go up on the Human Race website (www.humanrace.co.uk) later today and as soon as they are verified we'll load a copy in the database.