Marino Vanhoenacker of Belgium and Rachel Joyce of Great Britain won the top prizes at Ironman Mont Tremblant.
Vanhoenacker blew the men’s race away with a by-far best 4:26:57 bike split, then sealed the deal with a race-best 2:56:10 marathon that brought him to the finish in 8:21:29, with a 20:18 margin of victory over Australian-born U.S. resident Chris McDonald. The victory was the 16th Ironman title for the 41-year-old Belgian, including 8 Ironman Austria wins, one of which was the world’s fastest Ironman time as of 2011.
Joyce overcame a 13:15 deficit to swim and bike leader Lauren Brandon with a women’s 2nd-fastest 3:08:28 marathon which brought her to the line in 9:19:08, with a 2:14 margin of victory over Kim Schwabenbauer of the U.S. and 6:50 over 3rd place finisher Jennie Hansen of the U.S.
After taking six and a half months off after the birth of her first child, Archie, Joyce embarked upon a full schedule in 2017. Starting with a 7th place at Oceanside 70.3 on April 1, Joyce was 4th at St. George 70.3, 1st at Ironman Boulder, and 4th at Ironman Canada. Lacking enough KPR points to assure qualification for the Ironman World Championship this October, Joyce erased all doubts with her 2,000 point performance Sunday.
Taking Vanhoenacker out of a strict wire-to-wire victory, Antoine Jolicoeur Desroches led the men’s swim with a 53:17 split that gave him a 6 seconds lead on Vanhoenacker, 9 seconds on Wouter Monchy, 11 seconds on Oliver Gonzalez, 39 seconds on Chris Big Sexy McDonald, 1:16 on Jordan Monnink, 3:15 on Derek Garcia, 3:24 on Stephen Kilshaw, 5:26 on Patrick Evoe, and 7:26 on Jason Pohl.
After 66km of the bike leg, Vanhoenacker led McDonald by 3:45, Desroches by 4:04, Evoe by 7:43, and Monnink by 8:07. Halfway through the 180km bike leg, Vanhoenacker upped his lead to 5:42 on McDonald, 6:06 on Desroches, 10:24 on Evoe, and 11:07 on Monnink.
After a race-best 4:26:56 bike split, Vanhoenacker led McDonald by 11:53, Desroches by 18:44, Monnink by 21:22, and Chad Holderbaum by 23:13. Without a shadow of a lapse, Vanhoenacker methodically continued his attack to halfway through the run, leading McDonald by 15:48, Monnink by 23:51, Daniel Clarke by 28:07, Holderbaum by 30:14, and Desroches by 30:31.
After a race-best 2:56:10 marathon, Vanhoenacker finished in 8:21:29 with a 20:18 margin of victory over McDonald and 30 minutes flat over Jordan Monnink of Canada. His devastation of this year’s field had to afford Vanhoenacker enough satisfaction as he fell 5:12 short of TJ Tollakson’s 2014 race record of 8:16:17.
One of these days Lauren Brandon must shore up her running prowess so it matches her superb swim and bike skills. Up to this point, Brandon’s brave strategy is to redline the swim and bike legs and then hold on for dear life on the run. On Sunday, Brandon did that to a fault and let the cards fall where they may.
On the swim, Brandon posted a 49:34 split that not only gave her a 6:45 lead on her nearest women’s rival Rachel Joyce, but was also 3:43 better than the men’s lead swimmer Desroches.
Determined to put as much time in the bank as possible, Brandon uncorked a women’s-fastest 5:02:13 bike split which was 1:27 faster than the next-best effort by Kim Schwabenbauer, 3:45 better than Jennie Hansen, and 5:40 quicker than Joyce. After that estimable ride on a tough, hilly course, Brandon began the marathon with a 13:15 lead on Joyce, 13:20 on Canadian Magali Tisseyre, 17:54 on Schwabenbauer, and 19:24 on Jennie Hansen.
Brandon began the run full of hope, stubbornly resistant to the idea of waving the white flag.
After 10km of the run, Brandon held an 8:38 lead on Joyce, who has broken 3 hours on the run at Kona. Next in line were Tisseyre (+9:15), Schwabenbauer (+12:58) and Hansen (+14:20).
Halfway through the marathon, Brandon grudgingly gave ground to Joyce (+2:30) and Tisseyre (+3:31). At 25.5km, Brandon’s fate was written as Joyce loomed 30 seconds back and Tisseyre was ready to pounce at 1:34 arrears.
As the women passed the 30 km mark, Brandon surrendered the lead and Joyce, Hansen and Tisseyre ran past. At 32km, Joyce led Schwabenbauer by 2:27, Hansen by 3:25, and Tisseyre by 3:36 while Brandon settled into 5th, 3:36 back.
While Joyce was on her way to the win, Schwabenbauer had a firm grip on 2nd and Hansen was solidly in 3rd, Brandon had some fight left in her. On the final miles, Brandon passed Tisseyre back for 4th place and held on for the finish.
Joyce ran 3:08:28 to finish in 9:19:08 with a 2:14 margin of victory over Schwabenbauer (3:06:00 run), 6:50 over 3rd place Hansen (3:08:55 run), 8:19 over Brandon (3:30:06 run), and 11:01 over 5th place Tisseyre (3:18:57 run).
Victory and Kona qualification are sweet, but Mary Beth Ellis’s 2013 9:07:56 race record remained 9:12 out of Joyce’s reach.
Ironman Mont Tremblant
Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
August 20, 2017
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) 8:21:29 S 53:23 B 4:26:57 R 2:56:10
2. Chris McDonald (USA) 8:41:47 S 53:56 B 4:38:12 R 3:04:29
3. Jordan Monnink (CAN) 8:51:29 S 54:33 B 4:46:50 R 3:04:58
4. Chad Holderbaum (USA) 8:56:59 S 58:13 B 4:44:55 R 3:08:18
5. Jason Pohl (CAN) 8:57:28 S 1:00:43 B 4:49:12 R 3:02:39
1. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 9:19:08 S 56:19 B 5:07:53 R 3:08:28
2. Kim Schwabenbauer (USA) 9:21:22 S 1:05:43 B 5:03:40 R 3:06:00
3. Jennie Hansen (USA) 9:25:58 S 1:04:07 B 5:05:58 R 3:08:55
4. Lauren Brandon (USA) 9:27:27 S 49:34 B 5:02:13 R 3:30:06
5. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 9:30:09 S 56:30 B 5:08:05 R 3:18:57