Denis Chevrot of France won by a comfortable margin and Britta Martin, a German-born New Zealand resident, broke the course record to prevail at Ironman Western Australia.
Chevrot, who finished 5th at Ironman Port Macquairie and 2nd at Putrajaya 70.3 this year and 4th at Ironman Arizona in 2013, combined three excellent legs – a 46:23 swim, a 4:26:42 bike and a 2:49:11 run - to top runner-up Patrik Nilsson of Sweden by 6:13. Martin, the 2012 Ironman Western Australia women's champion, came from behind with an excellent run to pass long-time leader Mareen Hufe at the 31km mark of the run to win by 3:47.
This was Martin’s 3rd Ironman-distance win in 2014 – she previously won Challenge Taiwan and Ironman Wisconsin. The win was Martin’s second at Busselton – she won this race in 2012.
Denis Chevrot’s 46:22 split led Clayton Fettell out of the swim in a two-man breakaway with Christian Kemp, Guy Crawford Patrik Nilsson, Joe Gambles and Romain Guillaume a half minute back of the leaders. Per Bittner and Jan Van Berkel trailed by 2:13 and 2:20 respectively.
Clayton Fettell took the early lead on the bike, a minute and 12 seconds ahead of a 7-man pack that included Chevrot, Gambles, Crawford, Guillaume, Nilsson, Dellow and Kemp at 28km. Halfway through the bike leg, Fettell built a 2 minute lead while the chase pack grew to a crowded 10-man group led by Christian Kemp.
At the 100 km mark, Fettell still led but Romain Guillaume broke away to a 15 seconds lead on the rest of the chasers and cut Fettell’s lead to 1:15. Just 5 kilometers later, Fettell was stricken with a severe cramp and dropped out leaving Guillaume to inherit the lead.
By 134km, Guillaume extended his lead to 2 minutes, trailed by a huge pack led by Gambles and including Bittner, Chevrot, Kemp, Markus Thomschke, Nilsson, Dellow Crawford and Jan Van Der Berkel. Just 17 kilometers later, Guillaume’s lead was shrinking to 50 seconds on Chevrot with the rest of the pack 40 seconds further arrears. By 173 km Chevrot was on a roll – he took over and led by 1:30 while Guillaume dropped 2 minutes back.
By the finish of the bike, Chevrot’s 6th-best 4:26:42 split brought him into T2 with a 1:29 lead on Gambles (4:27:33 split), followed within seconds by Van Berkel, Bittner, Thomschke (race-best 4:24:05 bike split), Dellow, Crawford and Nilsson while Guillaume faded to a 4:12 deficit. Kemp, complaining of dizziness, dropped out early on the run.
Chevrot held firmly to his 1:30 lead over chasers Gambles, Bittner, Nilsson and Dellow after 12km of the run. At 17km, Chevrot increased his lead to 1:45 over Patrik Nilsson and David Dellow with Bittner and Gambles dropping off the pace. Soon thereafter, Gambles dropped out, citing a foot injury.
Halfway through the marathon, the heat increased and Chevrot led by 3:15 over Nilsson with Per Bittner next, 3:44 back of the leader. Seemingly in control, Chevrot held firm and led by 3:31 over Nilsson and 5:10 over Bittner with Romain Guillaume 9:36 arrears at 27km.
By the end, there was no drama as Chevrot closed it out with a race-fastest 2:49:11 marathon to finish in 8:05:58 with a 6:13 margin of victory over Nilsson (2:53:37 run) and 8:38 over 3rd place finisher Bittner (2:56:29 run).
While the men’s race settled into orderly fashion well before the finish, the women’s elites – a very strong field that included defending champ Liz Lyles, two-time Cairns Ironman champ Liz Blatchford and multiple Ironman winner and 6-time sub-9 hour Ironman finisher Yvonne Van Vlerken - the women's contest had more twists and turns than a Brazilian telenovela.
While age groupers Lisa DeLaurentis and Lauren Parker posted the fastest swim splits, pros Liz Blatchford (52:12), Svetlana Blazevic (52:13) and Dede Griesbauer (52:20) led the chase, followed by Bree Wee (53:33) and Lisa Marangon (54:44). True to form, Yvonne Van Vlerken and Mareen Hufe started the bike 6 minutes down on the leading pros.
Blatchford took a 1:40 lead at 28km, followed by Bree Wee, Riesler (+2:05), Lyles (+3:10), Blazevic (+3:15), Marangon (+3:45), Hufe (+3:50) and Van Vlerken (+5:15). Sadly, Dede Griesbauer dropped out with a mechanical issue early on the bike.
Just as things seemed to be settling into a calm order, Liz Blatchford was hit with two 4-minute penalties on the bike and Yvonne Van Vlerken suffered two crashes but soldiered on. At 61 km, Riesler took the lead, passing Blatchford as she was in the penalty box.
Halfway through the bike leg, Riesler led Mareen Hufe by 25 seconds, followed by Van Vlerken (+1:37), Wee (+1:52), Lyles and Van Vlerken (+2:30) and Blatchford serving her second 4-minute penalty (+4:00). Soon thereafter, Van Vlerken suffered her second crash and requested medical help but did not quit.
At 125km, Hufe led by 1:40 over Riesler, who was followed by Van Vlerken (+3:45), Blatchford (+4:15), Wee (+4:30). By 160km, Hufe extended her lead to 5 minutes on Riesler with Van Vlerken fighting a 6:30 deficit and Blatchford 7:30 arrears.
By the end of the bike leg, Hufe’s outstanding 4:44:6 split gave her a 6:57 lead on Riesler, 7:12 on Van Vlerken, 8:31 on Blatchford and 8:40 on Wee. Defending champion Lyles, off form and fading in the heat, on grimly for a 4:58:57 split that left her 13:30 down and soon to withdraw.
Last year, Hufe had a similarly significant lead after the bike only to struggle to a 3:17 marathon and be run down by Lyles.
Unfortunately after her brave start, Diana Riesler dropped out of the race early on the run on orders from her coach. “She hung tough in 2nd place, but [was] obviously fighting an infection,” Joseph Spindler wrote on Facebook. “Coach had to make judgment call to avoid damage to the body.”
By 17 kilometers, Hufe held the lead but her long term prospects looked grim as 2012 Ironman Western Australia winner Britta Martin was unleashing a blazing run and reached 2nd place, 3:33 behind Hufe. By 27 kilometers, Martin was just 33 seconds behind Hufe, with van Vlerken 3:02 behind and a revived Blatchford looming just 38 seconds further back.
By 31km, the fleet feet of Britta Martin flashed past Hufe for the lead, and Blatchford moved past Van Vlerken for 3rd.
Martin closed with a women's second best 3:00:00 marathon to finish in 8:56:34, breaking fellow New Zealander Gina Crawford’s women's race–record by more than 3 minutes.
Hufe closed with a 3:14:13 marathon to save 2nd place, 3:47 behind Martin. Blatchford ran 3:07:27 to take the final spot on the podium, 5:37 back of the winner. Beth Gerdes of the U.S. made up for a 1:02:10 swim with a women's-best 2:58:17 run to finish 4th, 2:27 back of Blatchford. Van Vlerken faded to a 3:121:05 run to finish 5th, 1:01 back of Gerdes.
Ironman Western Australia
December 7, 2014
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Denis Chevrot (FRA) 8:05:58
2. Patrik Nilsson (SWE) 8:12:11
3. Per Bittner (GER) 8:14:36
4. Romain Guillaume (FRA) 8:21:14
5. Mike Schifferle (SUI) 8:34:17
1. Britta Martin (NZL) 8:56:33
2. Mareen Hufe (GER) 9:00:21
3. Liz Blatchford (GBR) 9:02:10
4. Beth Gerdes (USA) 9:04:38
5. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 9:05:39