IM Arizona 2010

Thanks to a November date and the new Ironman World Championship qualifying points system, Ironman Arizona now draws a high octane, boutique-sized field of forward thinking elites. This year Chrissie Wellington used all that Kona fitness that was thwarted by her illness to smash the Ironman brand women’s world best mark with a smashing 8:36 time that chicked all but 7 men. Timo Bracht didn’t have much left over after his Kona performance, nor did Rasmus Henning, but both men topped the IM Arizona course record despite energy-sucking, challenging head and side-winds. Not only Miss Wellington was challenging the glass ceilings left hanging over women. Sister Madonna Buder, who already holds the amazing world best 77 years old for an official Ironman 17-hour finish time, this year at Tempe she teed it up at age 80. But one of the most impressive performances against medical odds was made by a young elite performer who works for Slowtwitch when he isn’t winning Ironmans. Unable to run more than an hour just two months ago after a car ran into him on a training ride in March, defending Ironman Arizona champion Jordan Rapp looked super strong on the bike and held on for a 4th place finish.

All photographs © Timothy Carlson

Timo Bracht recovered well enough from a 6th place, 8:21:00 finish at Kona to post an 8:07:16 course record win at Ironman Arizona – 2:42 better than Rasmus Henning, who faced the same daunting recovery challenge.

Sister Madonna Buder teed it up at Tempe, trying to crack the 80-year-old barrier for official women’s Ironman finishers. Unfortunately, the amazing Catholic nun was unable to post a swim finish time. Still, looks like she has acquired a halo here due to her many good works.

Stepping into the 61-degree liquid of Tempe Town Lake to start a little swim-bike-run workout.

The age group mass start cheered on by a big crowd at the bridge.

Chrissie Wellington sticks her tongue out – presumably aimed at the fates that made her sick and a frustrating DNS at Kona -- after finishing the swim in 51:56, just 43 seconds back of Leanda Cave and Meredith Brooks Kessler.

Chris Lieto faced the same recovery-from-Kona challenge met by Timo Bracht and Rasmus Henning. But after a decent 53:27 swim and sizzling race-best 4:21:37 bike, he was tapped out and walked in an honorable 4:15:00 marathon.

Age group competitors race past a veritable desert botanical cactus garden on the Beeline Highway.

While Timo Bracht, Rasmus Henning and Chris Lieto could reasonably claim to have the Kona-recovery blues, they were whining wimps compared to Leanda Cave. After her 10th place finish at Kona, Cave packed in a win at the Miami 70.3 and a 2nd place at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Clearwater before earning a 3rd at Ironman Arizona.

IM Arizona biker rides past elegant spiked desert flora on the Beeline median.

Aptly dressed for the Beeline Highway, an energetic aid station volunteer offers tasty drinks to the passing throngs.

Molly Hummel of Durango, Colorado rides past the stately saguaro cactus near the bike turnaround.

Rasmus Henning shook off a 4-minute penalty for a position foul on the bike with a 2:48:35 marathon that brought him within 2:43 of Bracht, second place prize money and precious Ironman qualifying points.

Miss Wellington smiles fetchingly while dashing off a Ironman brand record 2:52:55 marathon to close out her 8:36:13 day in the sun.

Kevin Everett of Boise, Idaho led much of the early going on the bike before fading to a 4:34:58 bike and 3:48:35 run and 29th overall placing.

Linsey Corbin of Missoula, Montana recovered nicely from Kona with a 59:35 swim, second best 4:58:13 bike and second-best 3:03:28 run for a 9:05:32 second place finish which broke last year’s women’s course record.

Timo Bracht raises the We’re Number One finger celebrating his course record 8:07:16 victory in the finish chute.

Chrissie Wellington’s boyfriend Tom Lowe earned great respect with his third-place 8:11:44 finish – and race-best 2:48:11 marathon.

Defending champion Jordan Rapp earned a warm ovation for his fourth place finish – just eight months after a devastating injuries suffered when hit by a car on a training ride.

Chrissie Wellington models a T-shirt handed to her by a fan at the finish line which boldly states “You just got Chicked!” Only seven men avoided that fate.

Although Chrissie Wellington’s first place finish trumped boyfriend Tom Lowe’s 3rd, he avoided getting chicked by 25 minutes. Refusing to accept any gender handicap, Wellington agreed to do dishes for a year to honor his household victory. They celebrated with a hug.