Cameron Brown won Ironman New Zealand for the 7th time and Jo Lawn fought off a late charge from Kate Bevilaqua for her 6th consecutive women’s crown and a new course record.
Somewhat cool temperatures greeted the roughly 1200 starters of the 2008 Bonita Ironman New Zealand as they headed into Lake Taupo for the opening 2.4mile swim leg. The trio of Bryan Rhodes (NZL), Kieran Doe (NZL) and Pete Jacobs(AUS) quickly gaped the rest of the men and slowly started to pull away from a group that contained Cameron Brown (NZL) and Luke Bell (AUS). At the halfway point of the swim Doe pulled away from Rhodes and Jacobs and reached the shore first in 45:02. Jacobs and Rhodes finished the swim 20 seconds later and the group containing Brown and Bell was almost another 2 minutes behind.
Doe really started to put the hammer down on the bike and quickly gained 3 minutes on a group of pursuers that contained Brown, Bell and Frederik Van Lierde (BEL). At one point the lead shrunk down to 2 minutes, but Bell get a drafting penalty and as he was standing down, the chase of Doe was left to Brown and Van Lierde. Does’s lead then hovered around 2.5 to 3 minutes until 135 k mark, but then he started to open the gap and by the time he hit T2, his lead over Brown and Van Lierde was 7 minutes.
Doe held on to his lead for the first half of the run, but Brown slowly reeled him in and went straight past him. Brown then slowly increased his lead and at 32 k his lead over second placed Van Lierde was 5:15. Doe hung tough in third place but he started to walk some sections. Brown cruised to the finish line uncontested and won his 7th Ironman New Zealand crown in 8:24:49. Ironman rookie Van Lierde finished an impressive second place 7 minutes after Brown and Doe rounded out the top three a further 2 minutes behind.
In the pro women’s race it was Gina Ferguson (NZL) who pushed the pace during the swim and pretty much lead from start to finish. But she never managed to get away from Joanna Lawn (NZL) who finished the swim just 20 seconds behind her. Bella Comerford (GBR) entered T1 another 4 minutes behind.
Once on the bike, Lawn really took charge and by 90 k her lead over Ferguson was up to 2:45, and her lead over Comerford was 6 minutes. By 125 k though a new contender was in the picture and Australian Kate Bevilaqua was now in second place 6:45 behind Lawn, followed closely by Ferguson, Comerford and Emi Shiono of Japan. By 150 k, Bevilaqua had shortened Lawn’s lead to 4:40 and she kept it that close all the way into T2. Shiono though ntered T2 in second place, just 4 minutes behind Lawn.
On the run Bevilqua soon took second place and she slowly gained on the race leader. Bevilaqua caught Lawn about 27 k into the marathon, and the two competitors then ran side by side for the next 10 k. But Lawn would not be denied and she surged ahead with 5 k to go and grabbed a historic 6th title in a course record time of 9:16:00.
2008 Bonita Ironman New Zealand, Taupo, NZ, 03-01-2008
Top 10 Pro men
1. Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:24:49
2. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:31:35
3. Kieran Doe (NZL) 8:33:35
4. Stephen Bayliss (GBR) 8:37:03
5. Pete Jacobs (AUS) 8:47:03
6. Hubert Hammerl (GER) 8:47:36
7. Richard Ussher (NZL) 8:48:10
8. Duncan Milne (NZL) 8:56:30
9. Daniel Niederreiter (AUS) 8:57:51
10. Scott Neyedli (GBR) 9:00:17
Top 10 Pro Women
1. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 9:16:00
2. Kate Bevilaqua (AUS) 9:20:06
3. Emi Shiono (JAP) 9:23:26
4. Bella Comerford (GBR) 9:25:33
5. Gina Ferguson (NZL) 9:33:29
6. Fiona Docherty (NZL) 9:41:56
7. Joanne Bennett (AUS) 9:47:27
8. Emma Weitnauer (AUS) 10:01:56
9. Sue Mellsop (NZL) 10:08:27 *
10. Elly Franks (AUS) 10:10:37
* = 40-44 age group winner and top female amateur