Josh Amberger and Sarah Crowley won the elite titles - and their first Ironman victories - at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship at Cairns.
Amberger led after the swim and the bike legs and held off the race-best run of fellow Aussie Joe Gambles to finish in 8:02:17 with a 1:46 margin of victory over Gambles and 5:29 over 3rd place finisher Braden Currie of New Zealand.
Defending champion Tim Van Berkel of Australia took 4th place, 7:05 behind the winner and 2:11 ahead of 5th-place David Dellow of Australia.
Crowley almost took a wire-to-wire victory, emerging from the swim just 5 seconds behind Karen Thibodeau of Canada. Crowley then combined a women’s-best 4:50:00 bike split and women’s 3rd-best 3:06:01 run to finish in 8:58:14 with a 10:06 margin of victory over Sarah Piampiano of the U.S. and 15:54 over 3rd-place Kristin Moeller of Germany.
Cameron Wurf of Australia faded from 2nd after the bike to 7th male pro after the run.
Amberger led the swim in 47:14 which gave him a 1 second advantage over Clayton Fettell, 2:29 over Michel Fox, 2:30 over Ironman New Zealand champion Braden Currie, 2:32 over Kiwi Mark Bowstead, 2:33 over David Dellow and Cameron Wurf, and 2:34 over defending champ Tim Van Berkel.
At 102km of the bike leg, Amberger and bike wizard Cameron Wurf had a 6:35 lead on Van Berkel, Bowstead, Gambles, Currie, Dellow and Michael Fox, with Cameron Brown, Callum Millward and Jeff Symonds 11 minutes arrears.
After a second-best 4:17:29 bike split, Amberger led Wurf (race-best 4:15:13 bike split) by 29 seconds and Van Berkel, Gambles, Michael Fox and Braden Currie by 10:37 to 10:59. Bowstead, Fettell and Dellow lagged 11:03 to 11:10 behind.
Amberger started the run at a 3:50 per kilometer pace with Currie, Dellow and Van Berkel charging at a 3:36/km rate. While Amberger’s previous best Ironman marathon was 3:26, he obviously had done some serious work on the run and set about defending his lead. At 10km, Amberger’s lead was 6:35 on Wurf, 8:32 on Currie, 8:39 on Dellow, and 8:44 on Van Berkel.
Halfway through the marathon, Amberger led Van Berkel and Currie by 6:56 and Dellow by 7:42. At 27km, Amberger maintained a 6:51 lead on Van Berkel, 7:25 on Currie, 8:09 on Dellow, and 8:10 on Gambles.
By 33km, Gambles made a big move to 2nd place, running with Currie 6 minutes back of the leader. After an 8th-best 2:53:26 run, Amberger survived to finish in 8:02:17 with a 1:46 margin on Gambles (race-best 2:44:30 run) and 5:29 on Currie (second-best 2:47:56 run).
Karen Thibodeau of Canada led the swim in 57:00, 5 seconds ahead of Crowley, 4:25 ahead of Dimity-Lee Duke of Australia, 8:20 ahead of Kristin Moeller of Germany, and 8:36 ahead of Sarah Piampiano of the U.S.
Crowley, who was 4th at Ironman Cairns two years ago, came into this race on form with an Ironman 70.3 win at Bahrain and podiums at Geelong and Dubai. Crowley started the bike leg on fire and carved out a 9:44 lead on Piampiano at 82km with Dimity-Lee Duke, Diane Luethi, and Thibodeau right at 10 minutes down.
After a women’s-best 4:50:00 bike split, Crowley hit T2 with a 13:17 lead on Piampiano (women’s 2nd-best 4:52:58 bike split), 13:19 on Duke, 16:04 on Luethi, 18:26 on Moeller, and 18:36 on Tine Holst of Denmark.
After a women’s 3rd-best 3:06:01 marathon, Crowley hit the finish in 8:58:14 with a 10:06 margin of victory over Piampiano (women’s-best 3:02:49 run) and 15:54 on 3rd-place Moeller (women’s 2nd-fastest 3:03:29 run).
Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship
June 11, 2017
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Josh Amberger (AUS) 8:02:17
2. Joe Gambles (AUS) 8:04:03
3. Braden Currie (NZL) 8:07:46
4. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) 8:09:22
5. David Dellow (AUS) 8:11:33
6. Michael Fox (AUS) 8:11:42
7. Cameron Wurf (AUS) 8:11:55
8. Mark Bowstead (NZL) 8:16:37
9. Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:19:08
10. Daniil Sapunov (UKR) 8:21:14
11. Callum Millward (NZL) 8:24:26
1. Sarah Crowley (AUS) 8:58:14
2. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 9:08:20
3. Kristin Moeller (GER) 9:14:08
4. Dimity-Lee Duke (AUS) 9:20:04
5. Katharina Grohmann (GER) 9:21:16
6. Tine Holst (DNK) 9:31:00
7. Diane Luethi (SUI) 9:37:28
8. Karen Thibodeau (CAN) 9:54:38
9. Sarah Graves (USA) 9:58:01
10. Jenny Fletcher (CAN) 10:10:05