Fellow Australians Paul Ambrose and Christie Sym won the Spirit of Racine Ironman 70.3 titles by comfortable margins Sunday.
Ambrose emerged from the swim just six seconds back of New Zealander Bryan Rhodes, then took a stranglehold on the race with a sizzling, race-best 2:04:50 bike that was exactly 5 minutes better than his nearest pursuer, Rhodes. Then Ambrose wrapped it up with a third-best 1:20:15 run that surrendered just 1:46 to runner-up Tim Berkel.
At the finish, Ambrose’s 3:51:50 topped Berkel by 5:42, bested third place Patrick Evoe by 11:24, outpaced fourth place Fraser Cartmell by 13:08 and was 14:38 better than firth-place Bryan Rhodes.
Ambrose’s 2011 has been a steady climb up the Ironman 70.3 ladder, starting with 6th at California, 4th at Boise, 2nd at Mooseman and Rhode Island before breaking into the winner’s circle in Racine with a dominating 5:42 margin over fellow Aussie Tim Berkel. The Spirit of Racine 70.3 win was Ambrose’s third major international victory, following 2010 triumphs at Memphis in May and Ironman Louisville.
"I had a great day today, everything just fell right into place for me, and considering the talent on display I couldn't be happier," said Ambrose to slowtwitch. "I love testing myself against some of the best athletes and today I just had my day."
The men's race was also notable for the very rare 8th place finish of two-time Ironman World Champion and 2006 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Craig Alexander. Alexander was right in contention through the bike, but fell off considerably with a 1:31:06 run that put him at the finish in 4:09:52.
In the women’s race, former adventure racer Christie Sym came out of the water fourth (29:22) behind Katherine Braun (27:10) Donna Phelan (27:55) and Michelle Wu (28:03). Sym then produced the third-fastest bike (2:26:33), slower only than Kristin Andrews (2:24:24) and Jessica Chong (2:26:27) and putting her in a virtual tie with Andrews. Sym then unleashed a 3rd-best 1:30:13 run that was 4:05 faster than Andrews.
At the finish, Sym’s 4:28:54 gave her a 4:32 margin over runner-up Andrews and 4:50 over third place Michelle Wu of Australia. This was Sym’s first major win, adding to her previous best finishes of 2nd at the 2011 edition of Ironman Western Australia and 5th at Ironman Canada last year.
"I've been in the sport for a year now and Racine was my first international triathlon, so it was pretty special to return and race to my first victory," said Sym to slowtwitch. "I knew I was capable of more than my results have been reflecting of late, and although a little tired coming off a big racing block I really wanted the victory today, and I dug deep for it. I couldn't be happier, I've been working hard for this result!"
Spirit of Racine Ironman 70.3
July 17, 2011
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Paul Ambrose (AUS) 3:51:50
2. Tim Berkel (AUS) 3:57:32
3. Patrick Evoe (USA) 4:03:14
4. Fraser Cartmell (GBR) 4:04:58
5. Bryan Rhodes (NZL) 4:06:28
6. Jeff Paul (USA) 4:07:45
7. Tom Francis (NZL) 4:08:05
8. Craig Alexander (AUS) 4:09:52
9. Robert Wade (USA) 4:13:40
10. Zach Ruble (USA) 4:14:22
1. Christie Sym (AUS) 4:28:54
2. Kristin Andrews (USA) 4:33:26
3. Michelle Wu (AUS) 4:33:48
4. Jessica Jacobs (USA) 4:34:21
5. Donna Phelan (CAN) 4:38:49
6. Susanne Davis (USA) 4:40:56 * W40-44
7. Jessica Chong (USA) 4:42:42
8. Terra Castro (USA) 4:51:53
9. Natascha Yaremczuk (CAN ) 4:58:14
10. Kelzie Beebe (USA ) 5:09:13