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Awesome Abraham crushes Ironman Melbourne
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Sunday 24th March 2013


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Great Britain - and indeed Wales - has another Ironman Champion, as Corinne Abraham produced a stunning effort in Melbourne today to win, well, actually to totally dominate the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship in Melbourne.

We've been following Corinne's progress closely here of Tri247 for four seasons now, since her first Ironman - a third place overall, as an Age Grouper at Ironman Regensburg 2010 - through to this weeks interview, and profile of her Trek Speed Concept bike. Speed proved to be an appropriate word today!

The day started with a change of plan for everyone, with the usual 3.8km swim replaced with a single lap 1.9km version due to rough seas conditions and safety concerns. The leading men's swim times (19:32), suggest that the course may have been shorter than that too - but, same for everyone; control what you can control.

Little in triathlon life is as predictable as Amanda Stevens (USA) leading out the swim, as she has in Kona for the last two seasons, though she had recent Ironman New Zealand winner Meredith Kessler on her shoulder (21.53). Almost everyone's pre-race favourite Caroline Steffen was three minutes back at this point, with Natascha Badmann (26.50) and Yvonne Van Vlerken (27:09) a further two and half minutes in arrears, but still well in contention. In her weakest discipline, Corinne recorded 28.23, and once on dry land it was game on. As she told me earlier in the week, "I expect to bike and run strongly - hopefully with the best!" Little did we know just how true that would prove.

We all expected Steffen to be a little way down on the swim, and equally assumed she would then ride up to and through everyone in front of her to lead into T2. While Steffen was solid, and did indeed move towards the head of the race, it was the sight of another Swiss legend, six-time Ironman World Champion Natascha Badmann riding her iconic Cheetah bike - approaching 47 years old - moving to the front of the women's field which caused the biggest smiles. None bigger than Natascha's!

Badmann, Steffen and Kessler were in close order through the first three quarters of the bike leg, but a quick look through the split times from the course were telling me that Abraham was on a charge, and having the day an athlete dreams of. Finally, the rest of the triathlon Twitter-sphere started to notice too - even if "who is no. 60" was the first recognition! Around the 125k mark, Abraham had bridged up to the leading ladies on the bike but had ambitions of doing more than just that. Pedal to the floor, she just rode past and away from them all. Her final 45km split - aided by a tail wind - was 1:03:22. On that split alone, she gained four minutes on Steffen. To give more perspective, USA's Jordan Rapp, one of the finest cyclists in the sport was barely one minute faster over that final 45km than Corinne. That's why Abraham arrived at T2 with a four minute buffer over Badmann and closer to eight on Steffen.

"Can she run?" was then the question. Indeed, the rest of the watching triathlon audience would soon find out that running is Abraham's best discipline. Having just set the fastest bike split though, any chance of fading? None, absolutely none. After a 4:42:09 bike split Corinne took off on the run looking in fine shape, and just 2:56:50 later - the only sub-three ladies marathon of the day - and almost 16 minutes in front of Yvonne Van Vlerken, Abraham had raised her already excellent 2012 season to another level beginning 2013. Corinne who? That won't be being asked any more...

Not feeling well all day, Caroline Steffen held strong for third to at least tick off her 'Kona validation', and with 4000 points on the board (and $25,000 in the bank), Corinne Abraham's Kona start is now guaranteed. No points chasing required, no 'need' to do any races for qualifying purposes.

With no race plan for the season beyond today, Abraham now has free reign to go wherever she wants - and, one would hope, have caught the eyes of several race directors around the world who would like to see her racing at their event... with some financial incentive to do so, fully deserving of the efforts she has put in over the last three years to get to this point.

Challenge Roth this summer already has Leanda Cave, Caroline Steffen, Rachel Joyce, Yvonne Van Vlerken and Sonja Tajsich confirmed. Having been denied what would surely have been a true 'Sub-9' had the swim been the full length, what chance a Bavarian showdown on the fastest course in the world with perhaps the best start list of the year on 14th July this year? Calling Felix Walschöfer... it's over to you.

Sunday 24th March 2013
Ironman Asia Pacific Championship, Melbourne
1.9k** / 180k / 42.2k
(** swim shortened due to rough sea conditions).

Pos Women
1st Corinne Abraham (GBR) 8:10:56
2nd Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 8:26:40
3rd Caroline Steffen (SUI) 8:31:22
4th Natascha Badmann (SUI) 8:34:37
5th Gina Crawford (NZL) 8:37:23
6th Amanda Stevens (USA) 8:39:39
7th Anna Cleaver (AUS) 8:40:45
8th Carrie Lester (AUS) 8:41:22
9th Sarah Piampiano (USA) 8:44:52
10th Britta Martin (GER) 8:45:50

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