Brad Kahlefeldt and Radka Vodickova, who are engaged to be married, came from behind on the run to win the pro titles at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Hefei.
Kahlefeldt, a three-time ITU Olympic distance World Championship medalist from Australia, came from 4th place and 55 seconds back on the swim and 7th place and 5:51 behind after the bike leg with a race-best run. His 1:15:03 half marathon split brought him to the finish in 3:55:32 with a 1:14 margin of victory over Stuart Hayes of Great Britain and 1:50 over 3rd place Brad Williams of the U.S.
Graham O’Grady of New Zealand led the field on the swim (22:55) and the bike (3rd-best 2:07:54) before succumbing to Kahlefeldt’s and Hayes’ ITU-honed foot speed and faded with a 1:29:53 run to a 7th place finish. Kahlefeldt and Hayes matched swim and bike splits before slicing through the field, quickly erasing their deficits and taking the lead on the run. Ultimately, Kahlefeldt’s 1:15:03 run was 1:12 better than Hayes and accounted for his margin of victory.
The win was Kahlefeldt’s 5th at the 70.3 distance, coming after victories at Bintan, Cairns, Putrajaya and Busselton. But it was particularly sweet as he has been fighting illness and had not won anything in 2016 prior to this performance.
Vodickova, the Czech Republic star based in Australia with Kahlefeldt , emerged from the swim 14 seconds behind Heather Lendway of the U.S., 1:13 ahead of Emma Pallant of Great Britain, 1:35 ahead of Robin Pomeroy of the U.S., and 6 minutes ahead of Parys Edwards of Great Britain.
After a women’s 3rd-best 2:22:16 bike split, Vodickova led Pomeroy (women’s-best 2:20:31 bike split) by 1 second, Lendway (2:22:32 bike) and Pallant (2:21:11 bike) by 15 seconds, and Parys Edwards by 8:23.
By 4km into the run, Pallant opened a 22 seconds lead on Vodickova, 57 seconds on Pomeroy, and 3:20 on Lendway.
Pallant, who won Ironman 70.3 Weymouth and earned three more 70.3 podiums this season, fought hard but Vodickova seized the lead at the halfway mark and opened a 1:21 advantage by 16km.
After posting the women’s-best 1:22:59 run, Vodickova finished in 4:13:50 with a 3:05 margin of victory over Pallant (1:25:56 run) and 7:57 over 3rd-place Pomeroy, who closed with a 1:30:48 run. Parys Edwards made up for a 30:55 swim with a decent 2:24:34 bike split and a women’s 2nd-best 1:24:28 run to finish 4th, 2:16 behind Pomeroy.
The win was Vodickova’s second 70.3 triumph of the year, after her win at Putrajaya. She also took 2nd places at Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship, Subic Bay and Vietnam.
Ironman 70.3 Hefei
October 16, 2016
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 3:55:32
2. Stuart Hayes (GBR) 3:56:46
3. Brad Williams (USA) 3:57:22
4. Luke Bell (AUS) 3:57:27
5. Jesper Svensson (SWE) 3:58:38
6. Dougal Allan (NZL) 3:59:27
7. Graham O’Grady (NZL) 4:04:29
8. Hao Miao (CHN) 4:07:44
9. Evgenii Khabarov (RUS) 4:08:18
10. Stepan Vakhmin (RUS) 4:08:23 *M35-39
1. Radka Vodickova (CZE) 4:13:50
2. Emma Pallant (GBR) 4:16:55
3. Robin Pomeroy (USA) 4:21:17
4. Parys Edwards (GBR) 4:24:05
5. Chia Chia Chang (TWN) 4:31:22 *F18-24
6. Shannon Profitt (NZL) 4:33:45 *F30-34
7. Heather Lendway (USA) 4:38:33
8. Annika Krull (GER) 4:39:53 *F25-29
9. Sarah Lester (AUS) 4:46:39
10. Kerri Dewe (NZL) 4:49:39 *F35-39