Crowie takes 3rd Kona title, Chrissie her 4th
Written by: Timothy Carlson
Date: Sat Oct 08 2011
Both Alexander and Wellington ended up in virtually equal collapses after their all-out, virtuoso efforts that led to one race record and another near record. In Alexander's case, the unexpected heroic effort came on the bike which set up his usual devastating run.
In Wellington's case, her recent bike crash left her sore with acres of road rash and the evidence was a super-slow-for-her 1:01:03 swim and a decent-but-substandard 4:56:53 bike split which surrendered 12 minutes to race-record splits by Julie Dibens and Karin Thuerig and six minutes to the dangerous Caroline Steffen. Once the run began, Wellington and last year's champion Mirinda Carfrae, who started the run a few minutes back of Wellington, both wrung out the last full measure of sporting devotion with race-record marathons of 2:52:41 for Wellington and 2:52:09 for Carfrae that cleared off all of their rivals and left the two giants of women's Ironman 2:49 apart at the finish.
Alexander combined a 51:56 swim, a shockingly impressive second-best 4:24:05 bike split and a second-best 2:44:03 marathon to hit the tape in 8:03:56 with a 5:15 margin over surprise runner-up and fellow Australian Pete Jacobs and a lucky 7:11 over pre-race favorite Andreas Raelert of Germany, last year's runner-up in an epic duel with Chris McCormack. Alexander also broke by 12 seconds the 15-year-old race record of 8:04:08 set by Luc Van Lierde in a similarly epochal fast year of 1996. The win follows Alexander's surprise victory at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship last month in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The surprises of the men's race included Alexander breaking away from Raelert on the bike as the German's 4:26:52 split lost 2:47 to the winner. On the run, Raelert's 2:47:48 not only surrendered even more time to Alexander, it opened the door for Pete Jacob's race-best 2:42:29 marathon to bring the Australian back from his 4:31:03 bike to the runner-up slot.
For her part, Wellington's fourth Kona victory came with great drama as she came off the bike leg roughly 23 minutes down to leader Julie Dibens and 9 minutes back of last year's runner-up Caroline Steffen of Switzerland and a few minutes behind Leanda Cave of Great Britain. The drama was set up by Wellington's bike crash two weeks prior to the big race which left her gashed and scarred by road rash and forced to take a regimen of antibiotics which typically wreak havoc with the body's natural systems.
In the final miles, Wellington pushed to her limits to stay in front of the onrushing Carfrae, who slightly faster ran approximately half a mile behind her.
After an encouraging 10th place finish here last year, Great Britain's Leanda Cave gave coach Siri Lindley, whom she shares with Carfrae, a 2-3 finish with a third-place finish in 9:03:29. Cave combined a 53:54 swim, a 4:58:41 bike and a 3:06:35 run for her Kona breakthrough. Fourth went to Great Britain's Rachel Joyce, who finished in 9:06:57, 35 seconds ahead of the fading Caroline Steffen, who closed with an off-form 3:15:17 run.
The man his friends call Crowie and his opponents must now call Alexander the Great won his third title at Kona in five tries, putting him past two-time men's winners Scott Tinley, Luc Van Lierde, Tim DeBoom and Normann Stadler and equal to the great Peter Reid.
The two men who stand above all in Kona wins with six apiece - Dave Scott and Mark Allen -- were there at the finish line to shake Alexander's hand not just for his third win but for breaking Luc Van Lierde's 1996 course record by 12 seconds with his 8:03:56 finish.
For Alexander, the win had meaning on many more levels than the $110,000 top prize. To those who suspected that after his fall from two-time defending champion to 4th place last year, he might be past his prime at age 38 -- one year older than Mark Allen's final victory at Kona -- the win made good on Alexander's boast that 38 was "just a number." To those who dissed Alexander's bike prowess had to eat their words as Alexander's 4:24:05 bike split was second only to Chris Lieto's race-lading blitzkrieg. That swift bike reversed Crowie's old strategy of coming off the bike 8 minutes down and relying on his low-2:40 runs. That bike put Crowie into the bike-to-run transition third, just 4:27 back of the soon-to-fade Lieto and 5 seconds behind hard-charging Luke McKenzie of Australia. More important, that bike slotted Alexander ahead of certified bike studs with win-capable runs such as Marino Vanhoenacker, Dirk Bockel, Andreas Raelert, Raynard Tissink and Faris Al-Sultan.
Throughout the day, Alexander held a confident smile and a look of comfortable smoothness on swim, bike and his closing 2:44:03 run which was just fast enough to close the door on the field. But at the finish, the act was revealed as a put on to mask a desperate exhaustion and Alexander looked shell shocked with a thousand yard stare as he tried for minutes to gather himself to say a few words to the cheering crowd.
"There are no words to tell how hard those last few miles were," said Alexander. "But I found the strength from the incredible support from my friends and my family. I did this for them,."
October 8, 2011
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:03:56
2. Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:09:11
3. Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:11:07
4. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 8:12:58
5. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:20:12
6. Mike Aigroz (SUI) 8:21:07
7. Raynard Tissink (RSA) 8:22:15
8. Andi Bocherer (GER) 8:23:19
9. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 8:25:42
10. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 8:27:18
11. Tom Lowe (GBR) 8:29:02
12. Daniel Fontana (ITA) 8:31:20
13. Marko Albert (EST) 8:35:18
14. Rasmus Henning (DEN) 8:35:53
15. Cyril Viennot (FRA) 8:37:00
1. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 8:55:08
2. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 8:57:57
3. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:03:29
4. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 9:06:57
5. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 9:07:32
6. Karin Thuerig (SUI) 9:15:00
7. Sonja Tajsich (GER) 9:15:17
8. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 9:17:56
9. Caitlin Snow (USA) 9:18:11
10. Virginia Berasategui (ESP) 9:19:52
11. Catriona Morrison (GBR) 9:22:07
12. Tine Deckers (BEL) 9:28:21
13. Kelly Williamson (USA) 9:29:08
14. Natascha Badmann (SUI) 9:31:21
15. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:34:06
Chris Lieto came within 9 seconds of Normann Stadler's 2006 bike record and Karin Thuerig smashed her own bike course record with a 4:44:20 mark. Photo Gallery by Timothy Carlson 10.10.11
Wellington's 2:52:41 marathon was 32 seconds slower than Carfrae's; Alexander's 2:44:03 was 1:34 slower than Jacobs' run - but both were fast enough. Photos by Timothy Carlson. 10.11.11
The 29-year-old Australian was an up-and-coming talent and actually had some fine results. Then he broke into the orbit of the greats with a 2nd at the 2011 Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona. 10.11.11
European 70.3 Champion Andreas Böcherer came to Kona to get a feel for this famous event and returned to Europe with a very fine 8th place. He had a few words with slowtwitch about his experience there. 10.17.11
It is again time for our annual top 15 Ironman Hawaii features and we start this year with the top 15 female finishers during the run in Kona. The fastest run split of the day belonged to Mirinda Carfrae who clocked a course record 2:52:09. 10.18.11
We again present the top male 15 athletes overall finishers during the run and talk about their running shoes. Fastest runner again was Aussie Pete Jacobs who managed a marathon time of 2:42:29 and finished in 2nd place. 10.19.11
We present the top 15 female Ironman World Championship finishers on the bike and look closer at their gear. Fastest bike split this year belonged again to Karin Thuerig who cranked out a course record 4:44:20. 10.24.11
Here is a closer look at the top 15 men at the Ironman World Championships aboard their bikes. Want to know what they were using in terms of frames and components? Look no further. 10.24.11
With the 2011 Ironman World Championship airing on NBC this weekend we noticed their preview video. We also came across a new VW commercial featuring Ben Hoffman. 12.05.11
Chrissie Wellington, the 4-time Ironman World Champion, the holder of the women’s Ironman distance and Ironman world best times, talks about her decision to take a year off from Ironman competition 1.20.12
Chrissie Wellington stepped up to a new challenge in NYC and competed in the Empire State Building Run-up. The 4-time Ironman World Champion earned a podium spot and finished well overall. 2.09.12
The 2012 Ironman Melbourne is only days away and has attracted quite an impressive field. Here are some of the folks to watch at this Asia-Pacific Championship race on Sunday. 3.21.12
Austin, Texas amateur triathlete Joe Thorne had the second fastest run last year at Ironman Hawaii. Now he is trying to add a top rank swim and bike to compete with the best in the world. 6.06.12
Andreas Raelert held off a very strong field to win the 2012 ETU Challenge Kraichgau European Half Distance Championships. Julia Gajer, who had recently won Austria 70.3, took the women's title in course record time of 4:20:09. 6.11.12
After Sunday's 70.3 Calgary event most of the Pro field in Kona will be set. But not much should really change from now until then and we looked at the 65 athletes who should currently be in. 7.25.12
The black and white photographs of Paul K. Robbins are a match for the athletic excellence of Craig Alexander; Crowie’s understated prose about his 2011 year gives a great look inside the heart and mind of a legend. 9.25.12
After taking a year’s sabbatical, four-time Ironman World Champion and holder of all women’s Ironman-distance records Chrissie Wellington announces her retirement at age 35 from professional Ironman racing. 12.03.12
It was the 4th closest men's finish at Kona, but the strategies that veteran Chris McCormack employed to beat Andreas Raelert made this a duel for the ages 10.12.10
Reviewed by: Double D, Oct 13 2011 8:25AM