Bevilaqua, Gray lead Ultraman Day 1

Kate Bevilaqua of Australia led Tara Norton of Canada by 12:34 and Rob Gray of South Africa led Inaki de la Parra of Mexico by 9:57 at the end of Day 1 of the 32nd Ultraman World Championship.

The Ultraman World Championship is a 3-day stage triathlon that completes a 321-mile circumnavigation of the Big Island of Hawaii on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Started in 1983, the event consists of a 10 kilometer swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Bay and a 90-mile bike leg from Keauhou to Volcano on Friday. On Saturday, the competitors cycle 171 miles from Volcano north to Hilo, up to Waimea and up and over the Kohalas Mountain range to Hawi. On Sunday, Ultraman runners finish with a double marathon from Hawi back to Kailua-Kona.


In her debut at the Ultraman World Championship, Bevilaqua combined a women’s best 2:31:58 split for the 10-kilometer swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Bay and a women’s-fastest 5:54:34 time for the 90-mile bike leg from Keauhou to Volcano for a total time of 8:26:32.

Norton finished the swim with a 5:59 deficit to Bevilaqua, then gave up another 6:35 on the bike to finish second woman, trailing the leader by 12:34 upon arrival in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Defending Ultraman women's champion Staci Studer of Kailua-Kona Hawaii finished the day in 3rd, 1:15:46 behind Bevilaqua.

Like many competitors, Bevilaqua suffered jellyfish stings halfway through the swim but was treated with anti-sting cream offered by her lead paddler and boyfriend Guy Crawford. Her 2:31:58 split was second by 2:03 to top men’s swim leader Rob Gray. When Gray was slowed by cramps on the 800-foot climb out of the swim, Bevilaqua took the overall lead for a few minutes.

“Yes I think there was a minute or two when I led the race but there was a long way to go and I decided to stick to the plan,” said Bevilaqua. The decision was wise as Bevilaqua and the rest of the field were met with 50-kilometer winds rounding South Point which became headwinds on the 4,000-foot climb in the final 20 miles to Volcano.

“At about 50 miles the winds hit and wow they were strong!” said Bevilaqua. “I was hanging on for dear life! There were some sections I was legitimately hoping I was not going to get blown over the railing! Thankfully I made a quick stop with my crew and Guy swapped out my front wheel and I was able to handle the conditions better. It was still super tough but I found out I had a little bit more control! I knew it was going to be head winds when you climb from sea level to 4000 feet and I wasn't disappointed. It was relentless.”

Bevilaqua’s Day 1 time for the traditional course is the third-best women’s mark in Ultraman Hawaii history, behind only Hillary Biscay’s 2010 mark of 8:17:09 and Amber Monforte’s 2010 mark of 8:21:44. Monica Fernandez of Guatemala holds the women’s Day 1 race record of 7:56:40 set on a less demanding bike course in 2001.


Rob Gray, a South African native who works as an endurance coach in Boulder, Colorado, came to his Ultraman World Championship debut after a win at Ultraman Florida in February. Like Bevilaqua, Gray endured jellyfish stings midway through the swim and persevered to a race-best 2:29:55 swim on a relatively fast day with neutral currents. Hampered by cramps on the 800-foot climb from the swim exit to the highway south, he surrendered the overall lead for a few moments to Bevilaqua before regaining his form.

“She’s a strong biker!” said Gray. “She actually passed me and led me for a few miles. There are quite a few downhills after the first hour or so. Just because I am much heavier than her, I regained the lead. She could easily match me on the uphills. The downhills I could get away from her.”

After the first 30 miles, Gray received a report that Inaki de la Parra of Mexico had made up the 15 minute gap he lost in the swim and was about 300 meters behind. While de la Parra rode a men’s-best 5:27:31 bike split which was 4:52 better than the leader, Gray pulled away on the final 4,000-foot climb and arrived in Volcano with a 9:57 lead.

Placing third on the day, 24:24 behind the leader, is the amazing Tony O’Keefe of Canada, who at age 55 has lost little of his strength and speed.

“It’s going to be an exciting race,” said Gray. “It’s super close and there is lots of competition.”

Ultraman World Championship
The Big Island of Hawaii
November 25-27, 2016
Day One - S 10k / B 90 mi.



1. Rob Gray (RSA) S 2:29:55 / B 5:32:13 / TOT 8:02:08
2. Inaki de la Parra (MEX) S 2:44:44 / B 5:27:21 / TOT 8:12:05
3. Tony O’Keefe (CAN) S 2:36:13 / B 5:51:39 / TOT 8:26:32
4. Travis Wayth (AUS) S 2:50:31 / B 5:45:10 / TOT 8:35:41
5. Miro Kregar (SLO) S 2:39:08 / B 6:31:38 / TOT 9:10:46


1. Kate Bevilaqua (AUS) S 2:31:58 / B 5:54:34 / TOT 8:26:32
2. Tara Norton (CAN) S 2:37:57 / B 6:01:09 / TOT 8:39:06
3. Staci Studer (USA) S 3:02:31 / B 6:39:47 / TOT 9:42:18
4. Iona Mackenzie (CAN) S 3:33:01 / B 7:11:24 / TOT 10:44:25
5. Ailie Coulter (AUS) S 3:06:29 / B 8:00:12 / TOT 11:06:41