Marko Albert of Estonia held off a late race surge on the run by 10-time champion Cameron Brown and Meredith Kessler of the U.S. won her third straight Ironman New Zealand title with a race record performance Saturday.
Albert, who finished a well-beaten second place last year to a race-record performance by home country hero Bevan Docherty, won wire-to-wire this time around with a race-best 46:10 swim, a race-fastest 4:36:42 bike split, then cruised to the finish with a 2nd-best 2:50:05 run to finish in 8:17:33 with a 4:22 margin of victory over 41-year-old New Zealander Cameron Brown. Brownie, who started the run in 4th place, 6:29 down, unleashed a race-best 2:47:45 marathon which cut 2 minutes 20 seconds from Albert’s lead off the bike but remained 4:22 short of a record-extending 11th Ironman New Zealand win.
Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand, a 70.3 hero still seeking his first Ironman win, took the final spot on the men’s podium in 8:28:56, 11:23 behind the inspired performance by the Estonian.
Australian Tim Van Berkel closed with a 5th-best 2:55:44 run to take 4th place, 57 seconds behind Van Berkel and 2:03 ahead of 5th place Tom Lowe of Great Britain, who closed with a 3rd-best 2:50:20 run which was not enough to make up the deficit created by his 54:51 swim.
Underlining his excellent performance, Albert’s race time was just 1:59 behind Docherty’s 2013 race record. Docherty had an off day and apparently withdrew on the run.
Scott Molina, one of triathlon's legendary Big Four who dominated the sport in the '80s and early '90s, finished 3rd in 50-54 and 105th overall in 10:10:37.
Molina won the very first Ironman New Zealand in 1985.
Meredith Kessler had no such trouble breaking Jo Lawn’s 2010 women’s race record and matching Lawn as only the second woman to win three straight titles at the New Zealand Ironman, which was celebrating its 30th edition on a bright sunny blue skies day.
Kessler, who won this title in a weather-delayed, half Ironman distance race in 2011, won a second straight Ironman New Zealand duel with New Zealand’s 11-time Ironman distance winner Gina Crawford. Last year, Kessler’s 9:17:10 finish topped Crawford by 3:44, but this time the race was never close.
Kessler came out of the swim in a race-best 46:47 split and a 4:33 advantage over Crawford’s next best swim. After another race-best split on the bike of 5:08:30, she added 1:35 to her advantage over Crawford, who by then was the only viable challenger. Both competitors hung tough – and Crawford did manage to post an identical to Kessler’s 3:08:06 run split. At the finish, Kessler’s 9:08:46 finish smashed Jo Lawn’s 2010 race record by 5:49 and gave her a 7:07 margin of victory over 2009 Ironman New Zealand champion Crawford.
Candice Hammond of New Zealand took the final spot on the podium in 9:30:04, Bree Wee of Kailua-Kona Hawaii was 4th in 9:39:15 and Michelle Bremer of New Zealand was 5th in 9:45:34
Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand
Taupo, New Zealand
March 1, 2014
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Marko Albert (EST) 8:17:33
2. Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:21:55
3. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 8:28:56
4. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) 8:29:53
5. Tom Lowe (GBR) 8:31:56
6. Daniel Halksworth (GBR) 8:41:49
7. Guy Crawford (NZL) 8:44:03
8. Philip Graves (GBR) 8:52:34
9. Bevan McKinnon (NZL) 9:00:59 * M40-44
10. Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 9:01:20
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:08:46 *CR
2. Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:15:53
3. Candice Hammond (NZL) 9:30:04
4. Bree Wee (USA) 9:39:15
5. Michelle Bremer (NZL) 9:45:34
6. Kate Bevilaqua (AUS) 9:47:18
7. Larisa Marsh (NZL) 9:49:49
8. Melanie Burke (NZL) 9:51:41
9. Mareen Hufe (GER) 9:55:30
10. Keiko Tanaka (JPN) 9:59:45