KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil advanced from third to first on the Day 3 double marathon to win a record 5th Ultraman World Championship and defending women's champ Amber Monforte of Reno, Nevada cruised to a wire-to-wire women's win by a wide margin over Brazilian Vanusa Maciel.
After leading the first two days of the 3-day, 505-kilometer stage triathlon, leader Jonas Colting dropped out after six miles with a leg injury. With the door to victory wide open, Ribeiro made up for his 7-minute deficit to Canadian Michael Coughlin with a second-best 6:30:39 double marathon that gave him a 22:09:54 finish. Ultraman Hawaii rookie Coughlin seemed to be almost fully recovered from injuries suffered when he was hit by a motor vehicle on a training ride two weeks ago. Coughlin broke his 2010 Ultraman Canada personal best double marathon by 49 minutes with a 6:47:47 clocking but fell 9 minutes 18 seconds short of the victory. Miro Kregar, on a mission to recover from a terribly off form performance that left him on outside the top 10 on Day One, advanced from 5th to 3rd overall with the day's-best 6:24:20 run that left the Slovenian third, 1 hour 14 minutes and 3 seconds back of Coughlin.
"When I start doing this race , I never see myself as a five-time champion," said Ribeiro. "Back then I could never believe it."
Ribeiro gave full credit to his pursuer Coughlin. "After the first marathon, he never dropped back. I was two miles ahead, but he was always there -- 14, 12, 10 minutes back. I knew I could never relax and I had to push hard to the finish."
The final day promised to be set up for a three-man duel for the victory. With an off-form Day Two ride of 8:08:21 ride surrendering 23:58 to Coughlin's race-best 7:44:23 and 22:59 to Ribeiro's 7:45:22 splits, Day Two leader Colting had his 31:08 Day One lead reduced to 7:04 over Coughlin and 14:58 over Ribeiro. While Colting's near-record 2004 winning time of 21:41:49 is 7:49 better than Ribeiro's 2008 Ultraman Hawaii best, the two-time ITU long course medalist from Sweden was vulnerable on the run. Colting's 7:15 Ultraman double marathon best is one hour slower than Ribeiro's 2008 mark. Coughlin, a relative newcomer to Ultraman world, had recorded only one previous double marathon, a 7:36 clocking while finishing third at Ultraman Canada in 2010. However, Coughlin had improved tremendously since then and had taken a leave of absence from his work as a radiotherapy technical expert to train expressly for this race and looked dangerously fit after race best cycling splits of Day 1 and 2.
When the runners left Hawi in the dark at 6 AM, Ribeiro and Miro Kregar took off at the front. The two were quite comfortable co-conspirators, having run the Queen K at the Ultraman together for five years and posting 6:14 and 6:15 PRs respectively. Colting, who had been nursing a hamstring-hip injury made worse on the Day 2 ride through nasty head- and side winds, started in brave pursuit. After 5 miles grimacing in pain and falling nearly one mile back, Colting surrendered to the inevitable and pulled out.
Coughlin, who has proved to be a very disciplined strategist, knew his limit was likely 6:45 and held to that pace on the 17-mile opening downhill to Kawaihae. At the 13.1-nile one quarter point, Kregar and Ribeiro clocked 1:24 while Coughlin was at 1:40 At the 17-mile mark at Kawaihae, Kregar felt stronger and took off alone to post a remarkable 2:54 clocking for the first marathon. Ribeiro, feeling only slightly less adventurous, clocked 3:02 at the halfway point, while Coughlin posted a 3:23 - 28 minutes back of Kregar, 21 minutes back of Ribeiro for the day and - more important - roughly 13 minutes back of Ribeiro for the overall.
While the runners had been aided at times by a fierce tailwind and hampered by vicious side winds, by the final 26 miles the winds subsided a bit and the heat increased to mild levels for late morning on the Queen K. At the 30 mile mark, Coughlin felt the need to make a push. "Early on the run, I really kept a lid on it and kept close track of my body because increased heat can make things change for the worse very quickly," said Coughlin. "From the one quarter to the halfway mark, I had lost much less time and I thought maybe things were beginning to turn. So I really started to push - and my body said NO! So I let up a bit." Still, Coughlin reduced Ribeiro's overall race margin from 13 to 10 minutes by the three--quarter mark at Mile 39.3. "I was encouraged, but I knew Alex was a world class athlete who knew this race well and I figured he would regroup."
Coughlin was right, as Ribeiro had clocked a 1:45 for the third quarter of the run and shut the door with a 1:42 for the final 13.1 miles. Ribeiro, who fought plantar fasciitis for much of this year, gutted out the pain for a 6:30:39 double marathon as Coughlin finished with a much improved 6:47:47 and trailed Ribeiro's overall time by 9:14 for a very honorable 2nd place.
Kregar, who led the final day run with a 6:24:10, had no chance of toppling the first two men after his disastrous 9:05:46 first day that was one hour slower than his projected time. Still, he could claim a measure of redemption with his third place finish, 1:23:17 back of the winner.
Monforte, who broke a 21-year-old race record last year as an Ultraman Hawaii rookie, came into the final day's double marathon with a 2 hour 24 minute and 18 seconds lead over Australian Alice Robb. Monforte unleashed a women's race-best 7 hour 50 minutes and 27 seconds double marathon - 5th fastest overall on the day - which increased her final winning margin over Vanusa Maciel of Brazil to 3 hours 38 minutes and 30 seconds.
Despite suffering from giardia and pneumonia and, in combination with returning to full time work as a nurse, having a much reduced training regimen in 2011, Monforte's 24:42:02 overall time was still the 3rd-fastest in Ultraman history - behind her own 24:07:11 and Hillary Biscay's 24:40:28 marks set last year. Monforte's time was also 6th fastest overall in 2011 - beaten only by five men and just 2:32:08 slower than men's winner Ribeiro.
Monforte took her impressive win in stride, giving credit to all who had the moxie to finish this, one of the toughest tests in the sport. "I feel grateful that I finished and got to compete in this beautiful place surrounded by the people I have come to know as my Ultraman family," said Monforte. "Despite the fact I have trained much less, I think all the miles I have put in have provided a base I can rely on. They say it is better to be 10 percent undertrained than one percent overtrained and I think I proved it true once again."
Running 9:05:38, Consuela Lively took third, 1:04:53 behind Maciel. Alice Robb of Australia ran 11:06:34 for 4th place, 46:52 behind Lively, and Kimmie Rouse ran 9:19:10 to finish 5th, 50:48 behind Lively. Laurie Beers ran 10:21:41 to finish 6th in 32:12:12 and Kathy Laska ran 10:10:26 to finish 7th in 32:16:32.
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 171.4 mi. / R 52.4 mi.
Day Three 52.4 mile run and Overall Results
1. Alexandre Ribeiro (BRA) -- Day 1 - 7:53:53 -Day 2 Bike 7:45:22 - Day 3 Run 6:30:39 Total 22:09:54
2. Michael Coughlin (CAN) -- Day 1 - 7:46:58 - Day 2 Bike 7:44:23 - Day 3 run 6:47:47 -- Total 22:19:08
3. Miro Kregar, (SLO) - Day 1 - 9:05:46 - Day 2 bike 8:03:15 - Day 3 run 6:24:10 - Total 23:33:11
4. Nino Cokan (SLO) - Day 1 7:58:36 - Day 2 bike 8:15:19 - Day 3 run 8:03:51 - Total 24:17:46
5. Jeremy Howard (USA) Day 1 - 8:18:21 - Day 2 Bike 9:02:13 - Day 3 run 7:04:00 - Total 24:24:34
6. Milton de Souza (BRA) Day 1 - 8:51:48 - Day 2 bike 8:42:45 - Day 3 run 7:26:28 - Total 25:01:01
7. Sergio Meniconi (BRA) Day 1 - 8:35:20 - Day 2 bike 9:24:14 - Day 3 Run 7:46:27 - Total 25:45:52.
8. Gary Wang (USA) - Day 1 8:37:50 - Day 2 bike 8:36:46 - Day 3 run 8:38:44 - Total 25:53:20
9. Chris Draper (USA) Day 1 - 9:20:40 - Day 2 bike 8:57:22 - Day 3 run 7:41:56 - Total 25:59:58
10. Scott Gower (USA) Day 1 - 8:36:18 - Day 2 bike 9:18:10 - Day 3 run 9:15:50 - Total 27:10:18
1. Amber Monforte (USA) Day 1 - 8:20:31 - Day 2 bike 8:31:04 - Day 3 run 7:50:27 - Total 24:42:02
2. Vanusa Maciel (BRA) 2ay 1 - 9:44:05 - Day 2 bike 10:19:58 - Day 3 run 8:26:29 - Total 28:30:32
3. Consuela Lively (USA) Day 1 - 10:09:17 - Day 2 bike 10:20:30 - Day 3 run 9:05:38 - Total 29:35:25
4. Alice Robb (AUS) Day 1 - 9:32:26 - Day 2 bike 9:43:17 - Day 3 Run 11:06:34 - Total 30:22:17
5. Kimmie Rouse (USA) Day 1 - 10:53:58 - Day 2 bike 10:15:05 - Day 3 run 9:17:10 - Total 30:26:13
6. Laurie Beers (USA) Day 3 Run 10:21:41 - Total 32:12:12
6. Kathy Laska (USA) Day 3 Run 10:10:26 - Total 32:16:32
7. Susan Smith-Nixon (USA) Day 3 Run 11:18:19 - Total 33:12:46