In a race that featured an impressive second competitive comeback after a September head injury by young Jake Montgomery, Ruedi Wild of Switzerland and Radka Kahlefeldt of the Czech Republic ended up with the wins at Subic Bay 70.3 in the Philippines.
Wild prevailed by 33 seconds after a race-long duel with Alexander, the amazing 44-year-old, 3-time Ironman World Champion and 2-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion. After virtually matching swim (23:28 to 23:35) and bike (2:07:13 and 2:07:22) splits, Wild and Alexander took over the lead from 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Sven Riederer just after the halfway point of the 21km run. By 17km, Wild led by 10 seconds over Alexander and 15 seconds on 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed. On his way to a race-best 1:14:07 half marathon, Wild increase his margin over Alexander (2nd-fastest 1:14:54 run) to 33 seconds to finish in 3:48:24. Reed, closing with a 3rd-best 1:16:15 run, rounded out the podium, 1:20 behind Alexander.
Very impressive was Jake Montgomery’s second outing after the traumatic head injuries he suffered when hit by a car on September 3 while training for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. After four months of consultation with a neurosurgeon and work with a speech pathologist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist, Montgomery shocked his doctors with the rapidity of his recovery and was cleared to train again in time to race at Geelong 70.3 last month. Given his loss of fitness after a 4-month hiatus, Montgomery was happy with his early speed and eventual 5th place finish.
Obviously the word “gradual” did not hold a prominent place in the talented 21-year-old’s vocabulary. At Subic Bay, Montgomery trailed Sam Betten by just 2 seconds after the swim, then took off like rocket on the cycling leg. After 48km, Montgomery led the a group of 7 chasers including Reed, Wild, Michael Raelert, Alexander, Kevin Collington, Betten and Riederer by 70 to 80 seconds. On a solo mission, Montgomery kept the pedal on the metal but put no more time on his pursuers and entered T2 with a 1:21 lead on the chasers now led by Johannes Moldan. Halfway through the run Montgomery drifted back to 9th place, 6:29 off the pace.
By the end of the run, Montgomery dropped just two more places to 11th, 16:06 behind the winner. Maybe he needs to rebuild his base – but not his courage and talent. Obviously his run is the final piece of the puzzle – doctors considered him at risk for a seizure and limited him to a maximum heart rate of 100 bpm until January.
Caroline Steffen led the women’s swim wave in 26:18, followed 2 seconds later by Radka Kahlefeldt, née Vodickova prior to her marriage to Brad Kahlefeldt last year. The rest of the pro field was in another time zone – with Kate Bevilaqua 1:27 down, Dimity Lee Duke 3:02 back and Sarah Lester trailing by 5:21.
At 48km of the bike, Steffen and Kahlefeldt increased their lead to 3:56 over Duke and 5:36 on 2016 Ultraman World Champion Bevilaqua. Just as they did last year at this race, Steffen and Kahlefeldt hit T2 seconds apart. This time they were 4:39 ahead of Duke and 11:29 ahead of Bevilaqua. Last year, Caroline ran away from Radka, but this year played out differently.
Halfway through the run, Kahlefeldt led Steffen by 1:56. After a women’s-best 1:25:24 half marathon, Kahlefeldt finished in 4:22:13 with a 3:42 margin of victory over Steffen and 19:44 over 3rd place Duke.
Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay
Subic Bay, Philippines
March 12, 2017
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Ruedi Wild (SUI) 3:48:24
2. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:48:57
3. Timothy Reed (AUS) 3:50:17
4. Sven Riederer (SUI) 3:52:04
5. Kevin Collington (USA) 3:52:11
6. Timothy Van Berkel (AUS) 3:54:52
7. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:56:17
8. Sam Betten (AUS) 3:58:33
9. Kyle Buckingham (RSA) 3:59:46
10. Ritchie Nicholls (GBR) 4:03:11
11. Jake Montgomery (AUS) 4:04:30
1. Radka Kahlefeldt (CZE) 4:22:13
2. Carolina Steffen (SUI) 4:25:55
3. Dimity Lee Duke (AUS) 4:41:57
4. Kate Bevilaqua (AUS) 4:47:29
5. Sarah Lester (AUS) 4:59:19