Ronnie Schildknecht earned his 6th Ironman Switzerland title but it surely did not come easy despite the 15 minute margin. Erica Csomor though had a much tighter battle to take the women's race.
First out of the water was Manuel Küng in 49:42 and Jan Van Berkel was not too far behind. A small group that contained Daniel Halksworth, Balazs Csoke and Mathias Hecht was next about 30 seconds later, and 5-time champion Ronnie Schildknecht exite the water 6 minutes after his countryman.
Van Berkel who had previously raced for the Abu Dhabi squad and was focused on the ITU circuit was now competing in his first Ironman event and he soon was in the lead. Behind him though Hecht had inched closer and Schildknecht was also on the move towards the front. At the 125k mark Schildknecht was in second position and had Van Berkel in his sight and soon after he took over the lead. Over the last 55k Schildknecht extended his lead to almost 10 minutes, but that was helped in part by a flat tire of Hecht. Word though had it that Schildknecht crashed somewhere on the course.
Schildknecht looked comfortable during the run too and while Van Berkel at one point had inched closer, the defending champion wasn't really in danger with that relatively big lead. Schildknecht slowed down a bit at the end, but so did Van Berkel and Hecht. Sergio Marques though seemed to have a bit extra in the tank late in the run and moved closer to third placed Hecht, but it was not going to be. Schildknecht took his 6th title in Switzerland in 8:17:13, while rookie Van Berkel finished second in 8:32:27. Hecht held on to third place a mute up on fourth placed Marques. American Scott DeFilippis used a race best 2:43:52 run to finish 5th.
"I am super happy - simply overjoyed that I could win this title for the 6th time," said Schildknecht.
Swiss Pro Simone Brändli was the first Pro out of the water in 55:27 with Italian Carla Stampfli only a handful of seconds behind her. Bella Bayliss and Kelly-Lynn Marcotte managed to swim sub one hour, but other contenders like Erika Csomor and Nikki Butterfield and had 1:02:12 and 1:03:22 respective swims. Fastest swim split went to Dutch age grouper Hanneke de Boer in 54:10.
Brändli pulled away from Stampfli on the bike and rode alone up front for quite a while, but by the halfway point of the bike segment fellow Swiss Pro Regula Rohrbach had inched to within 40 seconds. Csomor, Bayliss and Butterfield were gaining too, but were still more than 5 minutes behind the leader. At the 125k point Rohrbach had taken over the lead the other challengers had moved even closer. Brändli though pulled away again and reached the bike-run transition first, 2 minutes ahead of Rohrbach, Bayliss and Csomor, and 3 minutes in front of Butterfield.
Csomor though quickly moved to front of the race during the run and Butterfield was running in second position at the 7k mark. Butterfield had come as close as 30 seconds at that point, but Csomor started to pull away again. Butterfield started to fall off the pace late in the run and Bayliss moved into second position with Brändli hanging tough in third. Csomor clsed out her day with a 3:11:37 run to take the win in 9:20:16. Bayliss finished second in 9:25:24 and Brändli rounded out the podium in 9:30:58.
Zürich, Switzerland / July 15, 2012
2.4m swim / 112m bike / 26.2m run
1. Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) 8:17:13
2. Jan Van Berkel (NED) 8:32:27
3. Mathias Hecht (SUI) 8:42:08
4. Sergio Marques (SUI) 8:43:12
5. Scott DeFilippis (USA) 8:46:42
6. Mike Schifferle (SUI) 8:50:16
7. Trevor Delsaut (FRA) 8:53:57
8. Rafael Wyss (SUI) 8:54:33
9. Fabian Conrad (GER) 8:57:50
10. Michael Wetzel (GER) 9:01:31
1. Erika Csomor (HUN) 9:20:16
2. Bella Bayliss (GBR) 9:20:16
3. Simone Brändli (SUI) 9:30:58
4. Regula Rohrbach (SUI) 9:35:10
5. Monique Grossrieder (SUI) 9:55:40