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Leanda Cave - Ironman World Champion
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Saturday 13th October 2012


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No Chrissie Wellington... but Great Britain still holds the ladies Ironman World Championship title! Congratulations Leanda Cave, you are an Ironman World Champion. What a race it was too.

Swim

Much like the men's Pro race, predicting Amanda Stevens as first out of the water is a given. 55:09 was her time, her gap to the men's times bigger than usual almost certainly due to the separate - for the first time - female professionals start (five minutes behind the Pro men).

Very close behind were Meredith Kessler (USA), Gina Crawford (NZL), Leanda Cave (GBR), Mary Beth Ellis (USA) and Amy Marsh (USA) all within a minute. Caroline Steffen (SUI), Kelly Williamson (USA) and - perhaps reflecting her illness this week, Rachel Joyce - were a further 1:30 back. Mirinda Carfrae was almost spot on the hour mark for her 2.4 miles swim.

Bike

When I spoke to Caroline Steffen recently she said of the women's race "there are more ladies with a similar pace, especially a lot of good girls on the bike, so when you see the guys racing with huge packs at the front of the race with the ladies it has usually been big gaps between each. I reckon that's not happening this year, and I think we could see a group of five/six possibly at the front on the bike pushing the pace." That proved correct.

For much of the first half of the race it was just like that. Steffen quickly joined the leaders, while Crawford was the one to fall back, which left Stevens, Kessler, Cave, Beth Ellis and Marsh at the head of the field. By the time they reached the Hawi turnaround it was Cave, Beth Ellis and Steffen having dropped Marsh and Kessler - but Steffen had achieved that despite having to serve a four minute penalty for, we think, a bike infringement involving one of the male Pro athletes. Would she have to pay for that effort later?

Later on there was a penalty for Leanda Cave too... and she had a four minute stand down at the side of the road too. And to complete the set, Mary Beth then got her own and would have to serve her four minutes when arriving at T2. Full set for the leading three then.

The two teamTBB athletes Steffen and Beth Ellis arrived at T2 together, but while Steffen could head to the change tents, Ellis was straight off to the penalty tent. That would give Steffen a four minute head start for the marathon. And it would be four minutes not just on Beth Ellis, as Leanda Cave was able to catch back to Beth Ellis having already served her penalty out on the course.

Mirinda Carfrae had cycled very well in the closing stages of the 112 miles such that her deficit to Steffen starting the run was a more than achieveable 7:47. And just 30 second back on Carfrae - the 45 year old six-time winner Natascha Badmann! Not a great day for Rachel Joyce - she was 19 minutes down and, barring an exceptional marathon, out of podium contention.

Run

With Steffen out front, Cave and Beth Ellis went into battle! Time after time Leanda tried to pull away, but Mary Beth was like a dog with a bone and just wouldn't let her go and it took until half way through the run to finally pull away - for good? - into second place. Mirinda Carfrae was the fastest on the course though and having started 7:47 down, the gap to Steffen was down to just over two minutes as she closed in on Beth Ellis and Cave. Carfrae passed Beth Ellis and then, we assumed, would do the same to Cave... who was having none of it!

Within minutes what had looked like an inevitable Carfrae train to the front of the race had changed - and it was looking like the threat to Steffen was actually Cave and not 2010 winner Carfrae. Could Cave keep the title in British hands? With five miles to go the gap was below 90 seconds. This was not over yet. Already a three-time World Champ at ITU / ITU Long Course / Ironman 70.3, would Cave be able to add the big one to her bulging CV? She was giving absolutely everything to try to - and for the first time we were seeing someone run away from Carfrae in Kona.

Could she catch? Yes, she could! Steffen stayed with Cave briefly as she pulled up to her shoulder, but Leanda pushed on and quickly built a clear margin over the teamTBB athlete. Superbird was getting the better of Xena. Not long to go either... could Carfrae come back?

No - Leanda just kept her metronomic running action going, looked strong and consistent - and became Ironman World Champion. Incredible! The Ironman / Ironman 70.3 double in 2012.

A tough day for Rachel Joyce - but she battled through to finish 11th (9:40:16)

Pos Men
1st Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:15:54
2nd Caroline Steffen (SUI) 9:16:58
3rd Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 9:21:41
4th Sonja Tajsich (GER) 9:22:45
5th Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:22:57
6th Natascha Badmann (SUI) 9:26:25
7th Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:28:54
8th Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:32:18
9th Caitlin Snow (USA) 9:36:18
10th Amy Marsh (USA) 9:38:15

#GBKONA 2012 Coverage


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