VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, Hawaii -- Two-time Ultraman World Champion Jonas Colting of Sweden and women's defending champion and race record holder Amber Monforte charged out to big leads on the first day of the 27th Ultraman World Championship in Hawaii Friday.
Colting, who won this race in 2004 and 2007, overcame a 1:39 deficit to Richard Roll after the 10k swim, then charged with a 2nd-best 4:55:27 bike which brought him to the Day 1 finish in 7:15:50 with a 31:08 lead on Canadian Michael Coughlin.
"I donít care who you are, the first day of Ultraman is the toughest," said Colting. "After 9k of the swim, the last 1k is horrible - your arms and shoulders just give out. On the bike, you have 7,800 feet of climbing and that last few miles you have good momentum and then boom! You go shift into your small chain ring and suddenly you go from 50 kilometers per hour to 15 kmh and it takes everything out of your legs. Tonight I hope I get a massage and some voodoo man sticks pins in a doll to get me ready for tomorrow's 171-mile ride."
While Colting raged out front, Coughlin showed he could bring his A game after suffering painful injuries two weeks ago when he was hit by a car on a training ride on the bike course. Coughlin emerged from the 10k swim in 2:56:39 in 11th place, 37 minutes back of Richard Roll and 35 minutes back of Colting. Coughlin then went on the attack and after a race-best 4:50:18 ride that was 5:09 faster than Colting, he stood in second place.
"I was running on fumes the second half of that last climb - I think I was using my eyebrows for fuel to get up that last hill," said Coughlin, who finished on the podium at Ultraman Canada earlier this year. "I also think I like being the chaser - that helped me a lot today.
Coughlin nailed multiple Ultraman World Champion Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil on that last climb of 4,000 feet in 20 miles to the stage finish in Volcanoes National Monument. But Ribeiro, after suffering through seemingly endless episodes of barfing last year on the Day 1 bike, was happy to get through the day with only two mild episodes this time with a third-best bike split and third place standing in a combined time of 7:53:53.
"This year was much better," said Ribeiro. "Today there was no wind on the bike - I've raced here 7 times and that's never happened before. So I am eager to race tomorrow."
After his race-best swim, Richard Roll held off Colting for a short time before settling into 2nd place with a 20-minute cushion on the rest of the field for 55 miles of the bike.
Then, despite a sharp focus on improving his bike in training, his day unraveled a bit.
"I was humbled today," said Roll, an intellectual property lawyer based in Los Angeles. "I had a great swim and got out of the water feeling strong. I had been working hard on my cycling and was eager to se what I could do today. But I went hard on that first climb out of Keauhou Bay and my heart rate started going crazy right out of the gate. In training, I was sure I could maintain 260 watts for this ride, but I started 230 and it went down from there. I don't know why it happened, but I thought I should have biked 30 minutes faster today [than his 5:39:01]."
Monforte, on the mend after battling giardia and pneumonia this year, combined a women's best 2:54:58 swim and 5:25:33 bike for a Day 1 finish of 8:20:31 which gave her a 1:11:49 lead over Day 1 runner-up Alice Robb of Australia.
Despite a much reduced training and racing schedule and illnesses which led to a much lower level of fitness this year, Monforte actually topped her 2010 Day 1 performance by 73 seconds. "Conditions were much better this year - there was much less wind on the bike, and we had cloud cover and cool temperatures today," said Monforte. "I think that made up for my lack of fitness."
Still, Monforte once again proved why she is regarded as a breakthrough Ultra-distance triathlete performer as she beat all but 6 men in the 38-person field and was the first of 10 women competitors. Last year Monforte led an assault on the 22-year-old Ultraman Hawaii women's race record, finishing in 24:07:11 and breaking Tina Bischoff's 1989 mark by 1:38:40.
Alice Robb of Australia combined a 3:15:39 swim and 6:16:47 bike for a 2nd-best women's day 1 time of 9:32:20. Vanusa Maciel of Brazil combined a 3:25:39 swim with a 6:18:36 bike for a women's third-best Day 1 time of 9:44:05.
The Ultraman World Championship is a stage triathlon totaling 320 miles that circumnavigates the Big Island of Hawaii on the three days after Thanksgiving.
Day one on Friday consists of a 10k swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Beach, followed by a 90-mile bike from Keauhou to Volcanoes National Monument that includes 7,800 feet of climbing. Day two on Saturday is a 171-mile bike from Volcanoes National Monument through Hilo and over the mountains to Hawi which includes roughly 8,000 feet of climbing. Day three on Sunday is a 52.4 mile run from Hawi south along the Queen K Highway to the old airport in Kailua-Kona.
27th Ultraman World Championship
The Big Island of Hawaii
November 25-27, 2011
S 10k / B 90 mi. / B 171 mi. / R 52.4 mi.
Day One Results
1. Jonas Colting, 38, Sweden -- Swim 2:20:33 (2) Bike 4:55:27 (2) Total 7:15:50
2. Michael Coughlin, 38, Canada -- Swim 2:56:59 (11) Bike 4:50:19 (1) Total 7:46:58
3. Alexandre Ribeiro, 46, Brazil -- Swim 2:47:239 (8) Bike 5:00:24 (3) Total 7:53:53
4. Richard Roll, 44, USA -- Swim 2:18:54 (1) Bike 5:39:01 (7) Total 7:55:55
5. Nino Cokan, 38, Slovenia -- Swim 2:47:15 (7) Bike 5:11:21 (4) Total 7:58:36
6. Jeremy Howard, 31, USA -- Swim 2:31:45 (3) Bike 5:46:32 (8) Total 8:18:21
7. Sergio Meniconi, 46, Brazil -- Swim 2:38:42 (5) Bike 5:56:20 Total 8:35:12
8. Scott Gower, 46, USA - Swim 2:39:32 (6) Bike 5:56:46 Total 8:36:18
9. Gary Wang , 44, USA - Swim 3:17:41 (14) Bike 5:20:09 (5) Total 8:37:50
10. Milton De Souza, 37, Brazil -- Swim 3:02:54 (12) Bike 5:48:54 Total 8:51:48
1. Amber Monforte, 33, Reno, Nevada -- Swim 2:54:58 (1st F) Bike 5:25:33 (1st F) Total 8:20:31
2. Alice Robb, 33, Australia -- Swim 3:15:39 (2F) Bike 6:16:47 Total 9:32:20
3. Vanusa Maciel, 41, Brazil -- Swim 3:25:39 (3F) Bike 6:18:36 (3F) Total 9:44:05
4. Consuela Lively, 40, USA -- Swim 3:37:31 (4F) Bike 6:31:46 (4F) Total 10:09:17