HAWI, Hawaii -- Scary winds that gusted to 45 miles per hour made riders hold a death grip on their handlebars for the final miles of Saturday's 171.4-mile Day 2 bike leg of the Ultraman World Championship. When the day was done, Day One leaders Jonas Colting and Amber Monforte held on to their advantages with very different levels of comfort.
Two-time Ultraman World Champion Jonas Colting of Sweden opened the door to two rivals as his 4th-best Day 2 bike reduced his Day 1 lead of 31:08 to 7 minutes 4 seconds over hard-charging Ultraman Hawaii rookie Michael Coughlin of Canada and 14:58 over 4-time Ultraman World Champion Alexandre Ribeiro of Brazil.
Colting's shrinking lead included a 6-minute penalty assessed for blocking - which in the context of the Ultraman's around-the-island biking legs means that his support van rode behind him on the road up to the top of the Kohala Mountains about 150 miles into the route, holding up the passage of civilian traffic. "They said it was for safety, but our rules specifically prohibit holding up island traffic," said race director Sheryl Cobb. "We gave them three warnings but they ignored them and we finally had to make the call."
The narrowing of Colting's leading margin promises an interesting duel for tomorrow's Day 3 double marathon from Hawi along the Queen K Highway to the finish at the old airport in Kailua-Kona.
Despite holding the second-fastest time ever at the event, Colting's run has made him vulnerable as his best-ever Ultraman double marathon was 7 hour 16 minutes during his 2007 victory. Ribeiro, on the other hand, has a 6:15:32 best run done while winning his 3rd Ultraman crown in 2008. Coughlin, the Ultraman Hawaii rookie, has a 7:36:41 best double marathon while finishing 3rd at the 2010 edition of Ultraman Canada.
Long time Canadian announcer and Ultraman history buff Steve King thinks Coughlin has improved immensely in two years and has the capacity to run one hour faster than his 2010 Ultraman Canada effort. "He is smart, extremely fit and has proved to be a contender for the win," said King.
"I am aiming at sub-7 hours,:" said Coughlin, who like Colting is 38 years old. He seemed none the worse for wear after his race-best bike that included a scary blowout and nerve wracking tire change near the middle of his ride.
Coughlin's stellar two day performance comes just two weeks after a bone shattering collision with an errant driver during a practice ride on the first 15 miles of the Ultraman Day 1 bike course. After four days of rehabilitation, Coughlin was wary in his first bike rides after the crash, but quickly regained confidence. On the final 10-mile dash on the steep downhill from the summit of the Kohala Pass down to the finish at Hawi, Coughlin passed the veteran Ribeiro at full speed as both were buffeted by terrific side winds that turned the ride into triathlon's equivalent of rodeo bull riding.
"I was holding on so hard I got as cramp in my hand," said Ribeiro. "He stayed in his aero tuck and never moved while I was knocked all over the road. I didn’t think I needed to take those chances, but he looked good."
"After I got back on the bike, I made sure to ride that section in practice," said Coughlin. "I think I was comfortable all the way - and I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Ribeiro remains respectful of his opponents, but seeks redemption after a severe bout vomiting on Day One last year dropped him to an unaccustomed 4th place. "I am feeling very good - but anything can happen," said the 46-year-old with the most wins in Ultraman history.
Richard Roll, who set the Day 1 fastest swim and held 2nd two thirds of the way through the 90-mile Friday bike before fading to 4th at the end, said he was puzzled by his curious lack of power on the bike. Unfortunately, the answer was physical problems as he had to withdraw Saturday after coughing up blood early on the ride.
Mike Rouse sufferedf a broken humerus when he fell on the seaside section of the course at Mile 45 and was unable to finish.
Defending woman's champion and race record holder Amber Monforte faces no such problems for tomorrow's double marathon finale as the 33-year-old nurse from Reno Nevada holds a 2 hour 24 minutes and 8 seconds lead over the second woman - Australia's Alice Robb. In fact, Monforte's two-day total of 16:51:35 stands behind only four men in the 38-person field, 1:27:18 behind men's leader Colting and 37:40 behind 4th place man Nino Cokan of Slovenia..
Monforte's 6th-best of the day 8:31:04 ride, which included 8,000 feet of climbing, may have been 33:06 slower than her 7:57:58 record last year, but given the nasty winds Saturday's ride may have been the better performance. Still, it was the 4th best women's Day 2 bike split in Ultraman history and topped second place contender Alice Robb of Australia's 9:43:17 ride by 1:12:13.
Running third after a Day 2 bike of 10:19:58 was Brazil's Vanusa Maciel, whose two day total of 20:04:03 is 49 minutes back of Robb. Consuela Lively of the USA stands 4th after 10:20:30 Day 2 bike and a two day total of 20:29:47 - 20 minutes 44 seconds back of Maciel.
Amy Palmiero-Winters, the remarkable 39-year-old runner from New York City who competes with a prosthetic left leg and has finished the 137-mile Badwater Ultramarathon and Western States 100 and was a 2010 ESPY Award winner for best female athlete with a disability, had an inspiring second day at Ultraman. Battling the 45 mile per hour winds that battered the Kohala climb from the side and head on, Palmiero-Winters completed the 171.4-miles with 8,000 feet of climbing just a few minutes past the official finish time of 12 hours. Palmiero-Winters says the reason she competes is to make others see what is possible. "We all face challenges and we are all given two choices -- give up or move on and be better in spite of it. I choose to be better and help others."
The Ultraman World Championship is a 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.
27th Ultraman World Championship
The Big Island of Hawaii
November 25-27, 2011
S 10k / B 90 mi. / B 171 mi. / R 52.4 mi.
Day Two 171.4 mile bike - Unofficial Results
1. Jonas Colting, 38, SWE -- Day 1 7:15:50 - Day 2 Bike 8:08:21 - Total 15:24:17 * includes 6 minute penalty
2. Michael Coughlin, 38, CAN -- Day 1 7:46:58 - Day 2 Bike 7:44:23 - Total
3. Alexandre Ribeiro, 46, BRA Day 1 7:53:53 - Day 2 Bike 7:45:22 - Total 15:39:15
4. Nino Cokan, 38, SLO -- Day 1 7:58:36 - Day 2 Bike 8:15:19 - Total 16:13:55
5. Miro Kregar SLO - Day 1 9:05:46 - Day 2 Bike 8:03:15 - Total 17:09:01
6. Gary Wang, 44, USA - Day 1 8:39:50 - Day 2 bike 8:36:46 - Total 17:14:36
7. Jeremy Howard, 31, USA - Day 1 8:18:20 - Day 2 bike 9:02:13 - Total 217:20:34
8. Milton de Souza, 37, BRA - Day 1 8:51:48 - Day 2 bike 8:42:45 - Total 17:34:33
9. Scott Gower, 46, USA - Day 1 8:30:18 - Day 2 bike 9:18:10 - Total 17:54:28
10. Sergio Meniconi, 46, BRA - Day 1 8:35:20 - Day 2 bike 9:24:14 - Total 17:59:26
1. Amber Monforte, 33, USA -- Day 1 8:20:31 - Day 2 bike 8:31:04 - Total 16:51:35
2. Alice Robb, 33, AUS - Day 1 9:32:26 - Day 2 bike 9:43:14 - Total 19:15:43
3. Vanusa Maciel, 41, BRA - Day 1 9:44:05 - Day 2 bike 10"19:58 - Total 20:04:03
4. Consuela Lively, 40, USA -- Day 1 10:09:17 - Day 2 bike 10:20:30 - Total 20:29:47
5. Kimmie Rouse, 56, USA - Day 1 10:53:58 - Day 2 bike 10:15:05 - Total 21:09:03