Petr Vabrousek of the Czech Republic, a long distance triathlon glutton who at age 41 has completed 138 Ironman-distance events in a 15-year professional career, held off a determined charge on the run by home country favorite Tom Marmarelli to win his second straight Israman long course event. Marmarelli, the 2012 Israman champion, closed to with 15 seconds halfway through the marathon before falling to a renewed charge by Vabrousek, who finished the infamously difficult course in 9:55:30. Vabrousek's race was 27 minutes faster than his winning time last year achieved on a rainy, cool and windy day which contrasted sharply with today's bright, sunny and virtually windless weather.
Nina Pekerman, Israel's only woman professional long course triathlete, dominated the field with a 11:17:42 finish which gave her a 15:49 margin of victory over 2012 Israman women's champion Irina Mazin. Pekerman's time was 42 minutes slower than her 2010 winning mark which was achieved on a markedly easier course.
In the half-Ironman distance 113 event held on the same day, a 29-year-old man from the Netherlands and a 31-year-old British women dominated their rivals with impressive performances on the tough course.
Edo Van Der Meer put together a 26:27 1:2-mile swim on a choppy day in the Red Sea, a 2nd-best 2:49:40 bike split that included a daunting 2,050 foot climb over the first 10 kilometers and a 1:19:21 run to finish in 4:35:21 with a 10:11 margin of victory over runner-up Gergo Molnar of Hungary.
In the women' race, Alice Hector, who won the overall age group title in the recent ITU sprint distance world championships in London and who placed 3rd in the 2007 ITU long course World Championship, finished in 5:00:46 with a 41:27 margin of victory over runner-up Antonina Reznikova. Hector's finish put her 5th overall including the men and finished the day with an impressive 1:22:18 run which was 4th overall including the men.
Full distance men
Nir Menachem, a 24-year-old Iron distance rookie and a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, led the swim in 56:53,. trailed 5 minutes later by Marmarelli and Vabrousek ,
with Gergely Nagy trailing them by half a minute. After the 2,050 foot climb to start the ride, Marmarelli rode to the lead on his way to a race-best 5:38:31 bike split. About 160 kilometers into the ride, he was joined by Vabrousek and Nagy, who passed Menachem, who surrendered his lead with a 5:52:56 bike split.
"On the bike, I pushed hard most of the way and led to 160k," said Marmarelli. "When I saw Vabrousek and Nagy closing, I waited for them."
Vabrousek actually led by a few seconds into T2 which is situated atop the steep hill and the three leaders started to spread out a little on the quad-pounding downhill back to the seaside resort town.
"At the start of run I had to stop to pee," said Marmarelli. "Then I saw Peter got a minute on the downhill. He was very fast but I thought the day is long and I could maybe close a little bit on the flats."
"I got away on the downhill, but as we approached the halfway point of the run, Tom charged hard and got within 15 seconds," said Vabrousek. "He was having a perfect day and it was hard to get away from him. I tried to go a bit faster and it did not work until the final 6k where I managed to get away."
"It was tough to close the lead, but once I got near it seemed almost reachable," said Marmarelli. "I like racing here," said Marmarelli. "It is very tough and I always suffer very much but it is my domestic Iron-distance race and I have to be here."
Menachem made up for his bike with a race-best 3:14:38 run that was 26 seconds better than Vabrousek's effort and brought him to 3rd place, 3:10 behind Marmarelli. Menachem said he did not fear taking on the Ironman distance at a young age.
" I think when you are a regular person you choose regular things to do," he said. "When you want to be an unique man, you need to do unique things. And Ironman is one of them. Absolutely one of them. And they teach you to go long and sometimes to tell your mind to shut up. It is very good in life - not only for sport."
After the swim, Pekerman 's unimpressive 1:06:51 split was good enough to rate as the fastest women's swim split and put 24 minutes on her closest rival, former champion Irena Mazin. Mazin cut Pekerman's huge lead by 2 minutes with a 6:26:13 ride and knocked 6 more minutes off with a race-best 3:36:26 marathon. But at the end, Pekerman prevailed by 15:49.
At the finish, Pekerman had no worries about her 11:17 time, which is 1 hour and 37 minutes slower than her personal best at Frankfurt. "At the finish I was crying not from pain but for happiness," said Pekerman. "The time is not important for me. This is a very difficult race and fits the people of Israel well because they love a challenge."
Van Der Meer said the fact that his 4:35 finish time was 45 minutes slower than his 70.3 personal best "shows how hard the Eilat course is." Even on a mild day, Van Der Meer says the mountain wind "is constantly up and down. Sometimes you are cycling and you think My God am I this slow?"
Hector called the course "brilliant -- itís very testing. But I am very glad I am not doing double the distance."
January 17, 2014
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26/2 mi.
1. Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 9:55:30
2. Tom Marmarelli (ISR) 10:01:12
3. Nir Menachem (ISR) 10:04:22
4. Gergely Nagy (HUN) 10:21:13
5. Martin Krupicka (CZE) 10:24:58
1. Nina Pekerman (ISR) 11:17:42
2. Irina Mazen (ISR) 11:33:30
3. Suzsanna Harsanyi (HUN) 12:16:28
4. Keren Meretz (ISR) 12:31:28
5. Michal Mor (ISR) 12:33:55
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Edo Van Der Meer (NED) 4:35:29
2. Gergo Molnar (HUN) 4:45:40
3. Ran Alterman (ISR) 4:52:57
4. Dan Alterman (ISR) 4:54:08
5. Avishay Raviv (ISR) 5:02:18
1. Alice Hector (GBR) 5:00:46
2. Antonina Reznikov (ISR) 5:41:19
3. Ayelet Ben David (ISR) 6:04:42
4. Lilach Bar Natan (ISR) 6:11:28
5. Dora Heller (ISR) 6:12:13