What will be remembered as one of the closest Ironman finishes ever, Jozsef Major grabbed his very first title with an amazing run at the 2008 Ironman Arizona. Erika Csomor who hails from the same town in Hungary took the women’s crown with an equally impressive running performance.
A fairly large pro field entered the waters of Town Lake in Tempe, AZ for the 2008 Ironman Arizona spring edition. Halfway through the swim James Bonney surged away from Rene Goehler and came back into T1 with a 20 second cushion. A small pack containing TJ Tollakson, Wolfgang Guembel and Jonathon Caron was almost 2 minutes further back.
As the men started their multiple laps around Tempe, Goehler slowly started to gain distance on Bonney and Tollakson and Rutger Beke methodically moved towards the front of the race. By mile 37, Tollakson was barely a minute behind Goehler and about 20 seconds ahead of Bonney. Beke was sitting in fourth position a bit more than 4 minutes behind. A surge by Bonney around mile 55 though moved the lanky Texan back in front and he would keep that lead until mile 84. Tollakson was the new race leader and Jordan Rapp now was sitting in third position having clawed his way back into contention after a relatively slow swim. Beke though seemed to slow down and many wondered what that meant. (He would eventually drop out) A final surge by Bonney moved him back into the lead and first into T2.
Back out on the run, Bonney now had a 30 second lead on Tollakson, a 2:30 lead on Rapp and over 8 minutes on the next pursuers. Tollakson soon grabbed the lead back, but the big story of the day appeared to be Jozsef Major from Hungary who had previously shown some pretty impressive running ability. He had started the run 16 minutes behind and by mile 8.5 he was just over 10 minutes behind. At the halfway point of the run Bonney was within 4 seconds of Tollakson, followed by Rapp at 3:12 and Major at 7:39. With 6 miles to go in the event, Bonney was back in the lead, with Tollakson at 24 seconds, Rapp at 1:24 and Major at 1:44, and all signs pointed to an extremely close finish. Major though was just too strong and he streaked past Rapp, Bonney and Tollakson for his first Ironman title. Tollakson crossed the line 17 seconds later, Rapp took third 46 seconds later and Bonney was fourth at 1:14.
In the women’s race it was Tereza Macel who exited the waters first, with Hillary Biscay and Michellie Jones just a few seconds behind. Heather Gollnick came out of the water another 30 seconds later.
Jones quickly moved to the front on the bike and Macel started to drift back with various other early swim leaders. Meanwhile though Erika Csomor was posting some very fast bike times after a not so fast swim. By mile 76 Csomor had snatched the lead from Jones and looked very solid on the bike. Csomor arrived first back in T2 with Jones 30 seconds back and Tara Norton just under a minute behind.
A very swift transition allowed Jones to be first out on the run, but Csomor soon took the lead back and by mile 8.5 was 3.5 minutes clear of Jones. Norton followed at 5:47 and Heather Gollnick at 10 minutes. The lead of Csomor steadily grew and by the time she crossed the finish line she was almost 10 minutes up on second place finisher Jones and 13 minutes on third place finisher Gollnick.
Top 10 men
1. Jozsef Major (HUN) 8:34:19
2. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:34:36
3. Jordan Rapp (USA) 8:35:04
4. James Bonney (USA) 8:35:32
5. Rene Goehler (GER) 8:42:36
6. Jonathan Caron (CAN) 8:48:01
7. Massimo Cigana (ITA) 8:54:33
8. Brian Fuller (AUS) 9:00:51
9. Serge Meyer (SWI) 9:01:39
10. Bernhard Keller (AUT) 9:08:04
Top 10 women
1. Erika Csomor (HUN) 9:14:49
2. Michellie Jones (AUS) 9:25:52
3. Heather Gollnick (USA) 9:32:07
4. Tamara Kozulina (UKR) 9:34:18
5. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:34:38
6. Tara Norton (CAN) 9:35:45
7. Tiina Boman (FIN) 9:47:26
8. Hillary Biscay (USA) 9:53:21
9. Rachel Ross (USA) 10:03:48 *
10. Sione Jongstra (NED) 10:05:58
* AG athlete F30-34