Europeans strike at 70.3 Auckland

Jan Frodeno looked superb at the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships in Auckland, New Zealand and started his 2014 season with a big win. Catriona Morrison caught Annabel Luxford late in the run to take the women's title.

The men

Frodeno had a great swim and that put him into a good position on the bike. It appeared early on as if Frodeno had planned to get away on the bike but he eventually settled in with a fairly large group that contained defending champion Chris Kemp, 70.3 dominating Terenzo Bozzone, Andrew Yoder and Bevan Docherty. Yoder eventually attacked the group and gained about 2 minutes on the competition and towards the end of the bike segment Bozzone turned on the turbos and only Frodeno and Kemp managed to come with him. But their advantage wasn't very big when they reached the bike-run transition and Yoder was actually still up the street.

Frodeno had a slow transition but he quickly found his running feet and moved past the struggling Yoder and also past Kemp and Bozzone. Frodeno had a race best 1:12:47 run and that gave him the title in 3:45:40. Richie Cunningham ran past Bozzone to capture the running-up spot and Bozzone had to hold off a hard charging Bevan Docherty to take the final podium spot.

"My first win in a 70.3 is just the sweetest feeling," said Frodeno. "This is the greatest job in the world, but it is even greater when you are winning. Today I felt really good on the bike and that has never happened before in a 70.3 race. The swim was very controlled, but because I felt good on the bike I knew I would have a little bit of energy, which previously hasn't happened."

The women

Defending champion Annabel Luxford was first out of the water in 24:03 and that effort combined with her 2:25:04 bike split gave her a 2:30 advantage over Catriona Morrison and Samantha Warriner leading into the run. Warriner struggled hard during the run and completely fell out of contention. Morrison on the other hand managed a race best 1:21:37 run and that allowed her to catch Luxford a few miles from the finish.

Morrison crossed the line in 4:14:42 and added an important title to her resume. Luxford hung on to second place about 3 minutes later and Joanna Lawn was the best placed Kiwi in 3rd place.

"You can’t really believe it is going to happen until you take the lead and you tell yourself to keep going," said Morrison. "I had faith in my own run, but what you don't know is what your opposition has in store. A lot of people, when you pass them, they dig in and hang on."

Ironman 70.3 Auckland
Auckland, NZL / January 19, 2014
1.2m swim / 56m bike / 13.1m run

Top men

1. Jan Frodeno (GER) 3:45:50
2. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 3:47:22
3. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 3:47:33
4. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 3:47:44
5. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:48:05

Top women

1. Catriona Morrison (GBR) 4:14:42
2. Annabel Luxford (AUS)) 4:15:28
3. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:24:23
4. Michelle Bremer (NZL) 4:28:59
5. Kym Jaenke (AUS) 4:29:33