Australians Melissa Hauschildt and Dan Wilson won the Asia-Pacific Ironman 70.3 Championship Sunday at Western Sydney.
Hauschildt overcame a 5:06 deficit out of the swim with a dominating 2:15:37 bike split and a women's-fastest 1:19:03 half marathon to finish in 4:07:06 with a 1:25 margin over fellow Aussie Felicity Sheedy-Ryan and 5:47 over 3rd place finisher Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand.
Hauschildt's victory came after a long road to recovery following surgeries to correct a kink in her iliac artery early this year. In a remarkable display of determination, Hauschildt suffered through a 9th place at the ITU Long Distance World Championship at Penticton, 10th at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds and 14th at the Ironman World Championship in Kona before she regained her peak fitness at Sydney a year after her 2nd place finish at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds and a win at Ironman Western Australia.
Wilson, who declared that this would be his last race as a pro triathlete before focusing on obtaining his PhD, roared back from 8th place at T2 with a race-fastest 1:12:06 run to win the men's title by 1:22 over fellow Australia Tim Reed and by 1:25 over 3rd place Braden Currie of New Zealand.
Wilson defended his 2016 Western Sydney 70.3 title and added to his 2017 70.3 wins at Sunshine Coast and Busselton.
Lauren Brandon of the U.S. led the swim in 24:43 which gave her a 4 seconds lead on Haley Chura of the U.S., 10 seconds on Rebecca Clarke of New Zealand, and 2:16 to 2:25 over a quintet that included Annabel Luxford of Australia, Liz Blatchford of Great Britain, Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand, Felicity Sheedy-Ryan of Australia, and Laura Dennis of Australia. Unsurprisingly, superb cyclist and runner Hauschildt emerged from the water with a customary 5:06 deficit to make up.
Halfway through the 90-kilometer bike leg, Brandon carved out a 49 seconds lead on Chura, 1:57 and 1:59 on Sheedy-Ryan and Watkinson, 3:16 on Blatchford and 3:50 on the surging approach of Hauschildt.
After a 3rd-fastest 2:19:27 bike split, Brandon arrived in T2 with a 1:31 lead on Hauschildt who was propelled by her sizzling-fast 2:15:37 bike split, 1:39 on Watkinson (2nd-best 2:18:53 bike split), 3:02 on Sheedy-Ryan and 4:22 on Chura.
After 6.6km of the run, Brandon faded while Hauschildt grabbed a 16 seconds lead on Sheedy-Ryan, 55 seconds on Watkinson and 2:54 on Brandon. Halfway through the run, Sheedy-Ryan pulled even with Hauschildt and the two battled evenly until Hauschildt edged ahead at the 14km mark while Watkinson dropped 2:30 back and Chura fell 6:30 arrears. By 16km, Hauschildt ground out a 100 meter lead on Sheedy-Ryan and pulled away with a women's-best 1:19:03 run to finish in 4:07:06 with a 1:25 margin over Sheedy-Ryan (1:19:07 run) and 5:47 on 3rd place Watkinson (1:24:47 run).
Australian Olympian Aaron Royle led the men's swim in 23:12 which gave him a 39 seconds lead on Wilson, 40 seconds on Sam Appleton, 45 seconds on Sam Betten, 1:16 on Jake Montgomery, 1:24 on 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed, and 1:35 on Braden Currie and 2-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion Michael Raelert of Germany.
Halfway through the bike leg, Montgomery, happily back on form after injuries suffered in two car-on-bike crashes required long terms of recovery, led by 1 second over Royle, 4 seconds on Appleton, 5 seconds on Raelert and 7 seconds on Wilson. Between 44 and 49 seconds came a 5-man pack including Reed, Joe Gambles, Max Neumann, Braden Currie and Betten.
After a race-best 2:02:57 bike split, Gambles led a closely packed gang of nine into T2 - by 5 seconds on Reed and Currie, 10 seconds on Appleton and Montgomery, 11 seconds on Raelert, 13 seconds on Royle, 15 seconds on Wilson and 16 seconds on Betten.
By 6.6km of the run, Wilson took charge by 16 second son Currie and 26 seconds on a squadron including Reed, Appleton and Royle with Gambles 1:16 arrears. Wilson continued to push inexorably ahead. By 14km, he led Braden by 1:37, 1:57 on Reed and 2:17 on Appleton.
After a race-best 1:12:06 Wilson finished in 3:42:12 with a 1:22 margin of victory on Reed (1:13:40 run), who edged Currie (1:13:40 run) by 3 seconds for the runner-up slot.
Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship
Penrith, Western Sydney NSW, Australia
November 26, 2017
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 4:07:05
2. Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (AUS) 4:08:30
3. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) 4:12:52
4. Haley Chura (USA) 4:16:06
5. Liz Blatchford (AUS) 4:18:13
6. Laura Dennis (AUS) 4:21:06
7. Lauren Brandon (USA) 4:23:31
1. Dan Wilson (AUS) 3:42:12
2. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:43:34
3. Braden Currie (NZL) 3:43:37
4. Sam Appleton (AUS) 3:44:50
5. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:46:26
6. Aaron Royle (AUS) 3:47:12
7. Sam Betten (AUS) 3:48:45
8. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:50:26
9. Max Neumann (AUS) 3:53:35
10. Jake Montgomery (AUS) 3:54:25