Dominating one race like no other man in triathlon history, Kiwi Cameron Brown showed the world that he wasn't slipping at age 42 and won his record-breaking 11th Ironman New Zealand title in 8:22:13 – the 8th fastest time in Taupo history. Brown won by a 6:39 margin over fellow Kiwi Terenzo Bozzone, who earned his 4th Taupo runner-up finish. Brown’s 11th win breaks a tie with Ironman legend Mark Allen for domination of a single major race – Allen won the Nice International Triathlon 10 times. The victory also earned Brown the distinction of being the oldest man to win an official Ironman race.
Setting an impressive streak of her own, U.S. star Meredith Kessler dominated the women’s field for her 4th straight win at Taupo in 9:05:45, breaking her own course record set last year by 3 minutes and 1 second.
Challenge Wanaka winner Dylan McNeice led the swim in a record-breaking 44:26 split, 3 seconds ahead of fellow Kiwi Graham O’Grady, 6 seconds ahead of Australian international class rower Todd Skipworth, 38 seconds ahead of Terenzo Bozzone, 5:36 ahead of Ironman New Zealand dominator Cameron Brown and 5:37 ahead of Aussie Alex Reithmeier.
At the end of the multiple-lap Taupo bike leg, Brown’s race-best 4:37:39 split pulled him dead even with Bozzone (4:41:08 bike split) at T2, with O’Grady trailing by 1:31, Reithmeier 4:53 arrears, and Mike Schifferle 8:27 down after a second-fastest 4:38:26 bike split. After his dolphin- fast swim. McNeice surrendered 16 minute to Brown on the bike leg and started the run in 7th with a 10:14 deficit.
Ignoring any excuse that others might think appropriate for a 42-year-old. Brown methodically tore the heart out of his younger opposition from the start of the run. At 4km into the marathon, he had a 20 seconds margin on Bozzone and 2:44 on O’Grady. At 7.4km, Brown extended his lead to 48 seconds on Bozzone and 3:40 on O’Grady, 6:13 on Reithmeier and 12:55 over McNeice. Running with the effortless precision of a metronome, Brown sped away with no ups and downs. By 21.3km, Brown calmly extended his lead to 3:13 on Bozzone, 6:31 on Reithmeier and 10:43 on the fading prospects of O’Grady.
By 25km, McNeice looked ready to pounce for 3rd, just 58 seconds back of O’Grady. By 35km, Brown’s grip on an 11th Ironman New Zealand titles grew stronger as he held a 4:56 lead on Bozzone. By 38km, the Taupo master led Bozzone by 5:31.
At the finish, Brown’s race-best 2:49:08 run was 6:43 better than Bozzone’s marathon and provided him with his entire margin of victory. Reithmeier led McNeice by almost 2 minutes with 4 kilometers to go, but that was not enough. McNeice pipped Reithmeier in the final kilometer, as his 2nd-best 2:54:24 run was 5:34 better than the Australian’s effort and brought the New Zealander the final spot on the podium by a 42 seconds margin.
“As soon as we started I tried to push the pace to see if I could open up a gap and within the first kilometer I had a 10 meter lead. With each km my lead grew and after the first 14km lap I had a 2 minute buffer. I kept pushing on as you never know what can happen in an Ironman,” said Brown. “The final 4km back into Taupo is always incredible with the whole town lining the streets. I tried to really enjoy the final few kilometers and enjoy my 11th win here.”
Kessler dominated wire-to-wire, starting off with a women's-best 49:36 swim which was 1:49 better than her usual Taupo rival Gina Crawford, 9:10 better than Jocelyn McCauley of the U.S., 11:03 better than Stephanie Jones of the U.S., 11:33 better than Erin Furness of New Zealand and 13:10 better than Melanie Burke of New Zealand.
Kessler, likely hungry to avenge her 7th place finish at Challenge Dubai last weekend, tore into the bike leg and finished with a women's-best 5:04:29 split which was 7:50 faster than Burke, 12:26 faster than Crawford 14:18 faster than Jones and a time zone better than Furness. Kessler thus started the run with a 14:15 lead on Crawford, 21:33 on Burke and 25:55 on Jones.
If there was any doubt, Kessler closed with a women's-best 3:07:18 marathon to win her 4th Ironman New Zealand and 8th career Ironman victory. Kessler’s brisk 9:05:45 time gave her a 20:26 margin over Crawford, who closed with a next-best 3:11:13 marathon. Burke took the final spot on the podium with a 9:41:51 finish, 5:41 ahead of 4th-place finisher Stephanie Burke of the U.S.
"Ironman New Zealand and the community of Taupo is a very magical and special place for my husband and me. As for any athlete, it is very tough to come to this course and bring it on any given day, let alone four consecutive times and we do not take it for granted. The course seems to agree with my body meaning clear, clean water, chip seal roads and cooler air temperature," said Kessler to slowtwitch. "It was a tremendous day and we have enjoyed rekindling our friendships within the town of Taupo just as much as the actual race!"
Twenty-five years ago, Ken Glah and Pauli Kiuru engaged in an epic duel at Ironman New Zealand that ended with the closest finish in Ironman history. Their race came down to the finish line at which both men were timed in 8:39:12 and Kiuru won by less than a meter. While that race was held around Auckland and Saturday’s was 180 miles south in Taupo, there is one link to the present. Glah, who has a streak of 31 Ironman Hawaii finishes, raced Taupo Saturday a quarter century after his famous duel. Glah finished in 9:52:34 and placed 3rd in men’s 50-54 and 39th overall.
Ironman New Zealand
Taupo, New Zealand
March 7, 2015
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:22:13
2. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 8:28:53
3. Dylan McNeice (NZL) 8:38:05
4. Alex Reithmeier (AUS) 8:38:47
5. Mike Schifferle (SUI) 8:46:33
6. Carl Read (NZL) 8:47:41
7. Simon Cochrane (NZL) 8:51:11
8. Todd Skipworth (AUS) 8:55:31
9. Chris Sanson (NZL) 8:56:06
10. Johan Borg (AUS) 9:06:06
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:05:45
2. Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:26:11
3. Melanie Burke (NZL) 9:41:51
4. Stephanie Jones (USA) 9:47:32
5. Jocelyn McCauley (USA) 9:50:01