It was so tempting to headline this story 'Wellington ninth at Ironman Australia'... ...which would have been completely correct, she was ninth overall! As we suspected, the women's race overshadowed the men's, simply because of the presence of the Hawaii champion, and while the pre-race withdrawal of Rebekah Keat meant that she did have one less serious rival, Wellington ran a near textbook performance. Major took the lead on the bike early on but Wellington never let her get that far away and effectively overtook her during T2. At that point is was pretty much 'game over' as Wellington just gently moved away from her chasers. Lisa Marangon, who had been in third spot, dropped out but by the end Wellington had over four minutes in hand and the fourth fastest run split of the day (2:58:48). The battle for third place shows that you should never just look at the pro athletes... We were watching for Joanne Bennett's times to appear but we were looking in the wrong place! Third across the line was local age grouper Melissa Cockshutt with Prue Oswin the next pro in fourth and Sarah Pollett closing out the top five.
Three ironman races in a year (so far) and three wins - Wellington is now officially a serious player and can no longer be regarded as anything other than a potential superstar. Even Sports Illustrated rated her in their top ten (mind you, they put a golfer in first place...)
The men's race was a much more interesting affair in the sense that the winner was not really sorted out until well into the run. Mitch Anderson and Mathias Hecht were the leaders off the bike with Patrick Vernay over five minutes. By 17k the lead was all changed around with Luke McKenzie in the lead followed by Vernay and Anderson with Hecht dropping back. Vernay took the lead by the half-way point with Anderson, McKenzie and Hecht tailed out behind him over an 8:30 spread but Hecht rallied inside the last few kilometres to move back into third while local athlete Tim Berkel also moved past McKenzie for fourth spot.
You can see the race commentary and photos on the IronmanLive website (www.ironmanlive.com) and there's a full set of results here.
||Patrick Vernay (NZL) 8:31:33
||Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 9:03:55
||Mitchell Anderson (AUS) 8:40:19
||Kate Major (USA) 9:09:12
||Mathias Hecht (SUI) 8:42:48
||Melissa Cockshutt (AUS) 9:50:02
Javier Gomez called it his best race ever and it could very well be one of the most impressive performances in ITU history. After winning the season opener in Mooloolaba last week, Gomez (ESP) ran a 29:37 on a run course that race officials accurately measured at 10.2 kilometres to win today's New Plymouth BG Triathlon World Cup.
He was down by more than a minute after the bike but the deficit didn't matter; as he's done so many times before, the Spaniard ripped through the run to win his ninth career World Cup title, which moves him into fourth place among all-time World Cup winners. Perhaps even more impressive, this was his 15th consecutive podium. "It's amazing, two weeks, two victories. This was my best race ever. It's the best way to start the season. It was a difficult race and I am very happy." said Gomez. "It's a great start but the Olympics are still a ways away and there is lots to do."
Not able to keep up with his Spanish rival, Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) once again finished up taking the silver, 31 seconds behind. British veteran, Andrew Johns, made it back to the podium with third place, his first medal since a bronze in Makuhari, Japan in 2003. Kris Gemmell (NZL) came back in the run to take fourth while Peter Croes (BEL) equalled his best ever World Cup performance by taking the fifth spot.
Even his peers were in awe of Gomez's performance today. "That's one of the fastest runs I've done on the circuit and it was a tough course as well. All credit to Javier, he was absolutely flying out there and there wasn't much I could do today to beat him," said Kahlefeldt.
The British contingent of Johns, Stuart Hayes and Alistair Brownlee took the initiative on the bike leg and instigated a thirteen-man breakaway, arriving in T2 with a minute advantage ahead of the rest of the field. Johns was passed by Gomez and then Kahlefeldt but managed to hold off a late surge from Kris Gemmell (NZL). Johns said on his third place finish, "I tried to go with Javier [Gomez] when he caught me but that guy has got some serious pace, and having worked so hard on the bike I was quite fatigued; but I thought 'well it's been a long while since I've been on the podium' so I dug deep and stuck in there for third. This result means that I can really just concentrate on the Olympic qualifying race in Madrid now; and that's a good tough course which really suits me, so I'm really looking forward to it."
The other Brits ended up as follows; Stuart Hayes 9th, Oli Freeman 14th, Richard Stannard, who had led out of the swim, 32nd and Alistair Brownlee 49th.
In the women's race, Emma Moffatt (AUS) ran away from the field for her second World Cup victory and asserted herself as the front runner for a spot on the highly competitive Australian Olympic team. She won't be racing in Ishigaki next weekend and knew this was her final chance to impress Aussie Olympic selectors. "I had a bit of pressure on myself for today to make sure I performed since and it was the last opportunity to do this, so I had to see what I could do and I guess I did it," said Moffatt.
Just six seconds behind her was Lisa Norden (SWE) who is enjoying a spectacular start to 2008 after taking third last week in Mooloolaba. Moffatt's teammate, Felicity Abram (AUS) took third place for her first career World Cup podium finish.
Liz Blatchford saw a return to form as she enjoyed a fifth place finish in her second race after being clipped by a car whilst out training on Australia's Gold Coast in December. Blatchford had missed most of the 2007 season through injury, including suffering a broken pelvis caused by a collision with a car near Loughborough last summer. Blatchford said, "I'm really happy with my race; it feels like I'm getting back to creating my very best so I'm very pleased to be fifth and close to the podium. Last week's race in Mooloolaba [Blatchford was 17th] was disappointing for me, but it helped to blow the cobwebs away and got me back up to speed with competitive world cup racing and that showed out on the course today."
Andrea Whitcombe came through strongly during the second half of the run to finish just behind Blatchford in sixth. Her performance marks her second finish in the top ten in consecutive weeks, she was fifth in last week's World Cup in Mooloolaba. Helen Tucker continued her good start to the year with her second 13th place in two weeks. Kerry Lang from Scotland also matched her Mooloolaba World Cup performance, finishing 18th after staying with the lead pack throughout the race. Jodie Swallow was a DNF.
||Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:47:33
||Emma Moffatt (AUS) 2:01:01
||Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 1:48:03
||Lisa Norden (SWE) 2:01:07
||Andrew Johns (GBR) 1:48:16
||Felicity Abram (AUS) 2:01:16
For more details see the ITU website (www.triathlon.org), they should also have video highlights up by Monday. A full set of results are archived here.
On the domestic scene the first thing most people saw Sunday morning was cold, nasty, wet and white: yes, the snow was back! First of the events to suffer was the Aldershot Duathlon at Eelmoore which was cancelled owing to the conditions.
At Concept Sport's Hungerford Fast Twitch Triathlon the race was downsized to an aquathlon with a 400m swim and a two mile run. The winners were Thomas Milburn (Team Kennet) in 0:20:02 and Jenny Julian (Zoom Tri Club) in 0:23:26. Results are available here.
Derby Triathlon Club put on a Double Duathlon event with three 2k runs broken up by two 12k bike legs. Winners were Jacob Manning in 1:11:43 and Zoe Sewter in 1:23:45. A full set of results is here and there's a race report here.
The third of Exeter Tri Club's Earlybird Aquathlon Series took place at Sidmouth despite the organisers battling blizzards while putting out the course. During the race some of the waves went out in fantastic sunshine, others straight into a snow flurry. Overall winner was youth Daniel Winter who swam the 600 metres in 6:50 and ran the 5k in 17:27 to finish in 0:24:17, over three minutes ahead of second place Sam Hopton (Exeter Tri Club). Steve Hockings-Thompson was third and took the male veteran category. Sue Walker (Exeter Tri) was first woman home in 0:30:48 with Becky George first female veteran in 0:33:17. A full set of results is here.
The third in the Chase Race Duathlon Series was cut back to a 5k run, 20k bike, 2.5k run with a delayed start to avoid the worst of the snow and resulting nastiness. Winners were Joel Jameson (2XU TFN) in 1:00:21 and Michelle Askey (Burntwood Tri Club) in 1:19:20. Full results are here.
The Mounts Bay Harriers Penzance Triathlon saw wins for Junior Heffernan in 1:13:50 and Kathryn Burgess in 1:39:44. Full results are here and there's a write-up on the race on their website: www.mountsbayharriers.co.uk
The Swindon Duathlon seems to have escaped the worst of the weather with most of the snow melting away and the race actually starting on time. Winners of the main race (full results are here) were Dan Corner (Shorter Rochford/Exclusive Ranges) in 2:02:57 and Emma Dews (Thames Turbo) in 2:09:10. In the shorter race the winners were Paul Carson (Lorinium) in 0:58:36 and Victoria Webb (RAF Tri) in 1:04:31. Full results for that race are here.
The Steyning Triathlon organised by Raw Energy Pursuits seems to have been the worst hit of today's fixtures, we have some lovely photos to illustrate this in the race report here. Winners of the Long event were James Dear (Mid Sussex Tri) in 1:47:07 and Lauren Davies (Oxford Tri) in 1:55:57. Full results are here. Results for the sprint race are still being worked out, part of that event was re-scheduled as an aquathlon!
At the Diss Duathlon, wins were recorded for Lee Calderon (Tri Anglia) in 1:27:32 and Natalie Sutton in 1:45:05. A full set of results are here.