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Records fall in the Kona heat
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Sunday 9th October 2011


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Well, that wasn't the start we were expecting... Andy Potts puts in a dominating swim but, at 49:44 it wasn't going to break any records. Chrissie Wellington has, by most standards, a dreadful swim which put her some five minutes in arrears from the get go while Julie Dibens has already lit the blue touch paper and is set on building a bike lead that will not be seriously challenged throughout the 112 miles.

Pott's swim lead was slim but given the 20+ pack assembled behind him that contained every contender that you, I or the pundits could even think of it was clear that someone had to make a break for it. Various of them tried but at mile 90 it was Chris Lieto who finally broke the elastic and went away down the Queen K. His final split of 4:18:31 was just eight seconds shy of the course record. Five minutes and change after Lieto came McKenzie, Vanhoenacker, Alexander and Bockel. So now it's a running race and past form says that Lieto will get close but not claim the cigar and given Alexander has just had the best ride he has ever had in Kona it's really looking like the game is up for Chris.

Meanwhile still out on the highway we have Dibens with a strapped up foot some 11:15 ahead of Caroline Steffen with Cave and Joyce then Theurig before we get to Wellington at 22:50 off the leader. Mirinda Carfrae, last year's winner, and a runner fast enough to ensure Wellington needs to make up more ground, is just a couple of minutes back.

With the men heading off down the road and Alexander eating a minute of Lieto's lead inside mile three the news is that Dibens is in with a new bike course record of 4:44:14 - that's 4:08 quicker than the record Theurig set here last year. But can she run? Will that foot hold up? Will Wellington rip up all the records to get the win...

As a cartoon character once said, "Exciting, isn't it?" - and the battery on our 3G device here in Lanzarote is nearly flat...

...and so some hours later we get to catch up on the news. Which, frankly is pretty incredible. We have a new men's record for Craig Alexander in 8:03:56 in a race that went pretty much according to his plan if not to anyone else's. Chris Lieto faded, Vanhoenacker blew and Pete Jacobs nicked second place off Andreas Raelert in the last mile. Tom Lowe just misses a top ten placing with 11th. Awesome racing but nothing compared to the drama that was being played out in the women's race.

Wellington has won every Ironman race she has ever started and she has won her three in Kona with a lead off the bike. Today she started the run at 21:46 behind Julie Dibens in sixth place with Mirinda Carfrae not far enough behind her to have any feeling of safety. Could this be the day that Wellington's apparently invincible status took its first major hit?

By the time they turned at the end of Alii Drive Welington had nibbled a chunk out of the lead and reduced the deficit to 14:13. Dibens looked like she might be in trouble with that foot injury but to get to her Wellington had to pass Joyce, Cave and Steffen first. At six miles Wellington was at 12:40 off the lead and the pundits were calculating she would pass Steffen at 23 miles in the current pace. Perhaps we still had a slim chance that the crown would return to Chrissie after a year off.

At mile eight Dibens had lost the lead to Steffen but the gap back to Wellington was now just 5:05 - that's not a typo! Carfrae was 4:40 back from Wellington so still a serious threat if Chrissie had overcooked the afterburners.

The climb from the bottom of Palani at eight miles to the top saw Wellington gain another place as she overtook Rachel Joyce. And the gap to Steffen dropped by another minute. Doesn't look like she stopped at Mark Allen's Starbucks hangout on the way up for a quick chat with the coach then... So far Wellington has been averaging 6:20 miles and that's faster than Carfrae at every split - things are looking bright as the girls head out towards the Energy Lab turn.

15 miles into the run Steffen still had the lead, although it was now just a slender minute while Leanda Cave was holding onto a 30 second gap behind. Joyce was dropping back and in danger from Carfrae who looked to be turning up the heat and actually starting to gain some traction on the lead cluster. By the Energy Lab turn the lead was Wellington's with Carfrae now fourth and gaining a handful of seconds a mie... ...and there's not that many miles left to go back down the Queen K to Alii Drive.

22 miles in and Carfrae is in second place with a 3:45 gap and Wellington's definitely feeling it. There's still a very real danger that she could lose all she has gained along the way to Carfrae's slow but steady encroachment on her lead.

Another two miles in and Carfrae can see Wellington! Sure, Chrissie has slowed a little but Mirinda has lit off and gained a minute over the last mile - this could go all the way to the tape before it gets decided. We have a real race on our hands here.

Looks like word has got through to the Wellington engine room as the gap is growing again, and stays all the way to that finish line with what looks like a new run course record to boot. The road rash interrupts the Blazeman roll but that's now 4/4 to Wellington here in Kona with the second fastest overall time now added to her palmares. Carfrae blasts that potential run course record with her 2:52:09 and Leanda Cave completes the podium. Rachel Joyce chips another place off her Kona finishes with fourth and Cat Morrison just misses making it four in the top ten with her 11th place.

Nothing short of an amazing day in Kona and one that will go into the record books not just for the times that were laid down but the overall quality of the racing. And John has to re-do his sub-nine women table all over again!

Pos Men Women
1 Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:03:56 [CR] Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 8:55:08
2 Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:09:11 Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 8:57:57
3 Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:11:07 Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:03:29

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