Fontana, Corbin take Pucon

Heavy rains, high winds, hail and cold temperatures turned the normal Chilean meteorological summer upside down and forced Pucon organizers to substitute a 5k run for the swim in the turbulent waters of Lake Villarica. When the impromptu long course duathlon was over, Daniel Fontana of Italy and Linsey Corbin of the United States prevailed in the opening Ironman 70.3 race of the year.

Women’s champion Linsey Corbin summed up the crazy weather: “They switched to a duathlon this morning. They couldn't even get the buoys set out and it was too dangerous for kayaks water safety to get on the water. In light of the recent tragedies in Chile [last year’s devastating earthquake and the Chilean miner disaster], the Marines wanted to be safe about the conditions.”

Fontana, who finished second to Reinaldo Colucci at Pucon in 2010, turned the tables on his Brazilian rival this year. Fontana took the title with a time of 3:52:59, 3 minutes 25 seconds ahead of runner-up Colucci and 4 minutes ahead of multiple Pucon champion Oscar Galindez of Argentina, who was third.

Five men ran the opening 5k together including Colucci, Galindez, Fontana, Balazs Csoke and Santiago Ascenco. On the two-loop bike totaling 56 miles, only Ascenco dropped out. On the hilly, three-loop run, Fontana and Colucci broke into the lead with Galindez a short way back in third. Fontana, the 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Championship silver medalist, surged into the lead on the second lap and held on for the win. At the finish, Colucci said “I felt very tired because I have only run a duathlon twice. My legs were very heavy the second run."

Corbin, who broke into the ranks of Ironman winners last summer in Coeur d’Alene and who set an Ironman PR of 9:05 at Arizona, stayed on top form with a time of 4:15:42 and a 5 minutes 35 seconds margin over fellow U.S. competitor Kim Loeffler, who was second. Heather Gollnick took third in 4:33:38.

Loeffler led the first 5k run in a split of about 17:50 and Corbin trailing by 40 seconds, with Chilean Valentina Carvalho was third and Heather Gollnick fourth. Corbin gritted through the increasing rain and took the lead about 20k into the bike.

Corbin was wet but unsinkably exuberant with her victory: “I am happy to have not given up all day and taken the win here in Pucon. There were many times I thought ‘this is crazy!’ I just tried to have fun with all the rain and stay as warm as possible. Even though the swim was canceled, I think we all still swam as there was that much rain on the bike and the run.”

Loeffler added: “It was a tough day because of the weather. But it was tough for everyone. Second place is a great way to start the year."

Ironman 70.3 Agrosuper Pucon
Pucon, Chile
January 16, 2011
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.

Unofficial Results

Elite Men

1. Daniel Fontana (ITA) 3:52:59
2. Reinaldo Colucci (BRA) 3:56:24
3. Oscar Galindez (ARG) 3:57:17
4. Mario de Elias (ARG) 3:58:11
5. Jose Luis Gonzalez (CHI) 4:04:09
6. Balazs Csoke (HUN) 4:06:31
46. Cristian Bustos (CHI) 4:31:23

Elite Women

1. Linsey Corbin (USA) 4:15:42
2. Kim Loeffler (USA) 4:21:17
3. Heather Gollnick (USA) 4:33:38
4. Valentina Carvalho (CHI) 4:35:33