VOLCANOES NATIONAL MONUMENT, Hawaii -- Sweden's two-time Ultraman champion Jonas Colting leads Mike LeRoux of Australia by 10:37 and Ultraman Hawaii rookie Hillary Biscay leads Ultraman Canada 2009 winner Amber Monforte by 4:35 and six-time Ultraman World Champion Shanna Armstrong by 15:23 after the first day of the 26th Ultraman World Championship.
On a day of swift swims and a rugged, debilitating, wind-plagued bike, the women's big three prohibitive favorites did not disappoint. Ironman glutton Hillary Biscay, who has finished 8 Ironman distance races this year and 40 in her career, combined a women's record-smashing 2:20:48 swim with a third-best 5:56:21 bike for a first day total of 8:17:09. Amber Monforte, who set the Ultraman distance record in 2009 in Canada, posted a 2:42:10 3rd-fastest women's swim and a 5:39:34 fastest women's bike to trail Biscay by 4:38. Defending six-time Ultraman Hawaii champion Shanna Armstrong recorded her PR 2:40:16 swim and a 5:52:16 bike to finish in 8:32:32 -- still in striking range.
Biscay succinctly described the energy-sucking head- and side-winds that hit hard on the 4,000-foot climb on the final 20 miles of the bike thusly: "At one point, I was going downhill in my small chain ring at 200 watts at 11 miles pert hour! Ridiculous!"
Biscay admitted that she was conscious of the intensity of the rivalry that she, Monforte and Armstrong brought to this year's women's battle. "I knew that my work was cut out for me with Amber and Shanna in this race," said Biscay, who has two Ironman victories in her 10-year-career. "As you can see by the swim times [all of which smashed Shanna Armstrong's race record of 2:46:37] every one of us has lifted their game," said Biscay. "Obviously, this is the most stacked women's field we have had here. Everyone got the most out of themselves today."
Starting the bike with a 22-minute lead on Monforte and 20 minutes on Armstrong, Biscay played her cards conservatively. "I tried to follow my coach's instructions and ride pretty conservatively and with discipline, but it was pretty hard when I heard the girls were taking heaps of time off me. While the wind was gnarly, the strategy paid off since I had energy at the end and hopefully I swill have energy tomorrow."
While icing her sore legs after the bike, Monforte downplayed the wind. "Yeah its windy, but it's the same for all of us," she said. Monforte also downplayed the competitive aspect. "I think it’s more of an event that a race, said the overall top woman amateur at the recent XTERRA World Championships in Maui. Perhaps that psychological strategy works for her. "I think I did so well at Maui because I never thought about it," she said.
The indomitable Texan Armstrong didn't betray any moping about her third place standing. "If I was a policeman, I'd arrest those two for speeding," she joked. "I don't think I could have done anything differently," she added. "I went out and had one of my best swims and bikes ever. But the winds turned real nasty and there went hopes for a first day record time."
Jonas Colting has a bronze and a silver at the ITU long course world championships and Ultraman world titles in 2004 and 2007. Despite his 10 minute lead over Mike LeRoux of Australia, then 37-year-old Swede looked nothing like a breezy winner at the end of his ride. "This was the nastiest day ever in my racing career," said Colting as he tried to stretch the cramps out of his painful legs at the stage finish. "I had a hard time keeping my bike upright," he said. "There were parts on the final 30 miles where I usually can rest but today I had to hold on for dear life."
Last year Mike LeRoux finished 4th at Ultraman, but heeded the words of winner Alexandre Ribeiro's victory speech. "Alexandre said if you want to do well you should ride a lot of hills. So this year all I did was ride the hills near my home in Cairns, Australia - and it worked. "
LeRoux also worked hard on his swim and that preparation paid off with a 4th-best 2:28:50 swim that held Colting's damage to 12 minutes. On the bike, his second-best 5:10:31 split took back two minutes from Colting and left him in striking range going into Saturday's 171.6 mile bike from the south of the island to the north at Hawi.
Four time Ultraman Hawaii champion Alexandre Ribeiro had a hard time Friday. "I got sick and threw up for the first 90 minutes of the bike," he said after his 2:44:31 swim and shocking 6:00:55 bike left him 7th man in 8:45:26. "I think I drank too much ocean water and the salt made me sick to my stomach, said the Brazilian.
Perhaps the greatest drama of the day belonged to 46-year-old age group competitor Martin Franklin. Pushed to the edge by the high winds, Franklin rounded the final corner into the finish line in the dark, then found his way to the line with just one second to spare for an official stage one finish just one second before the 12-hour cutoff.
The Ultraman World Championship is a three-day stage triathlon totaling 320 miles that circumnavigates the Big Island of Hawaii on the three days after Thanksgiving.
Day one on Friday consists of a 10k swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Beach, followed by a 90-mile bike from Keauhou to Volcanoes National Monument that includes 7,800 feet of climbing. Day two on Saturday is a 171-mile bike from Volcanoes National Monument through Hilo and over the mountains to Hawi which includes roughly 8,000 feet of climbing. Day three on Sunday is a 52.4 mile run from Hawi south along the Queen K Highway to the old airport in Kailua-Kona.
Ultraman World Championship
Day One of Three
The Big Island of Hawaii
November 26, 2010
S 6.2 mi./ B 90 mi.
Day One Unofficial Results
1. Jonas Colting, 37, (SWE) Swim 2:16:04 Bike 5:14:40 TOT 7:28:44
2. Mike Leroux, 35 (AUS) Swim 2:28:50 Bike 5:10:31 TOT 7:39:21
3. Slater Fletcher, 33 (USA) Swim 2:43:25 Bike 5"05:43 TOT 7:49:03
4. Christian McAvoy, 28, (USA) Swim 2:38:28 Bike 5:26:18 TOT 8:04:42
5. Nino Cokan, 37, (SLO) Swim 2:53:19 Bike 5:30:40 TOT 8:23:58
6. Gary Wang, 43 (USA) Swim 3:01:42 Bike 5:38:09 TOT 8:39:51
7. Alexandre Ribeiro, 45, (BRA) Swim 2:44:341 Bike 6:00:55 TOT 8: 45:26
8. Markus Joswig, 29 (GER) Swim 2:43:47 Bike 6:08:34 TOT 8:52:17
9. Scott Beasley, 49 (USA) Swim 3:06:04 Bike 5:51:59 TOT 8:58:03
10. Carlos Conceicao, 46, (BRA) Swim 3:04:45 Bike 5:55:53 TOT 9:00:38
1. Hillary Biscay, 32, (USA) Swim 2:20:48 Bike 5:56:21 TOT 8:17:09
2. Amber Monforte , 32, (USA) Swim 2:42:10 Bike 5:39:34 TT 8L21:44
3. Shanna Armstrong, 36, (Ft, Worth TX) Swim 2:40:16 Bike 5:52:16 TOT 8:32:32
4. Kathy Winkler, 44 (Marin CA) Swim 2:42:39 Bike 6:12:09 TOT 8:54:48
5. Megume Kobayashi, 37, (JPN) Swim 3:12:45 Bike 6:26:19 TOT 9:39:04
6. Vanusa Maciel, 40 (BRA) Swim 3:21:20 Bike 6:30:51 TOT 9:52:11
7. Laurie Beers, 56 (USA) Swim 3:33:36 Bike 6:37:00 TOT 10:10:42
8. Kimmie Rouse, 55 (USA) Swim 31:06 Bike 6:51:51 TOT 10:32:57
9. Suzy Degazon, 46, (PR) Swim 3:56:04 Bike 7:11:16 TOT 11:07:20
10. Wendy Minor, 65 (USA) Swim 3:24:08 Bike 7:49:24 TOT 11:13:32