KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- The incredible Chrissie Wellington Express wrote a new chapter in triathlon history by taking down the 17-year Ironman Hawaii race record held by eight-time winner Paula Newby-Fraser with a dominating 8:54:02 that outpaced runner-up rookie Mirinda Carfrae by the Paula-esque margin of 19:57. While Wellington surrendered her year-old run record to Carfrae's blazing 2:56:51 marathon, she upped her Ironman-distance win record to a perfect eight-for eight and took her third straight win at the sport's crown jewel, the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
On a day in which the next fastest women's bike split was 5:01:42 by third place finisher Virginia Berasategui of Spain, Wellington essentially closed the deal with 4:52:07 bike that put her in the same dominant two-wheel category as Newby-Fraser and Swiss legend Natascha Badmann.
"I'm honored and incredibly proud to have broken such a historic record set by Paula Newby-Fraser, an incredible legend of the sport," said Wellington.
On a red-hot but largely windless day on the Queen K, defending champion Craig Alexander won a long duel on the run by rookie Andreas Raelert, then set out to overcome a 5-minute 20-second lead held by the USA's Chris Lieto in the final 10 miles of the race. On his way to a carefully paced, race-best 2:48:05 marathon, the man called Crowie cut Lieto's margin to 5:20 at Mile 13, to 5:00 at Mile 14, to 4:45 entering the Natural Energy Lab at Mile 15.5, to 2:20 at the exit of the boiling hot Energy Lab, then arrived at Lieto's shoulder at Mile 22.
In a reprise of their fierce duel to the finish line at Ironman Boise 70.3, Lieto did not surrender to the seemingly inevitable onslaught of Alexander. Instead, the Danville, California star sucked it up and displayed that the hard work he had done on his run since his breakthrough 6th place finish at Kona in 2007 was for good purpose.
With chilling overtones of the Mark Allen-Dave Scott duel 20 years ago, Lieto tucked in at Crowie's elbow and hung like glue for a mile and a half. At aid stations, they ran elbow to elbow, and ;poured ice kin their singlets, doused their heads with water and gulped down Gatorade in unison that would make synchronized swimmers jealous.
Finally, Alexander's stride lengthened at the same time that Lieto's shortened and the defending champ pulled away at Mile 23.
At the finish, Crowie had fashioned another win from a 50:57 swim, a 4:37:33 bike and a 2:48:05 run to cross the line in 8:20:21, just 2:35 ahead of the runner-up.
Lieto covered himself in nearly equal glory by combining a 51:07 swim, a race-best 4:25:11 bike and a gutsy 3:02:35 run. Even after his gutsy counterattack on Alexander Lieto kept it together to retain second place and hold off the swift-footed Raelert by 96 seconds.
Ironman Triathlon World Championship
October 10, 2009
S 2.4 mi// B 112 mi./ R 26.2 mi.
1. Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:20:21
2. Chris Lieto (USA) 8:22:56
3. Andreas Raelert (GER) 8:24:32
4. Chris McCormack (AUS) 8:25:20
5. Rasmus Henning (DEN) 8:28:17
6. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:28:32
7. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 8:29:55
8. Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:30:15
9. Andy Potts (USA) 8:30:30
10. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 8:31:44
1. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 8:54:02
2. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 9:13:59
3. Virginia Berasategui (ESP) 9:15:28
4. Tereza Macel (CAN) 9:25:48
5. Samantha McGlone (CAN) 9:30:28
6. Rachel Joyce (GBR) 9:32:27
7. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 9:32: 27
8. Sandra Wallenhorst (GER) 9:38:28
9. Dede Griesbauer (USA) 9:40:59
10. Tyler Stewart (USA) 9:42:41
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