Stephen Bayliss and Bella Comerford won Ironman South Africa earlier this year and today the couple also took the titles at the 2008 Ironman UK.
Rainy skies and a new bike and run course greeted the athletes as they started the 2008 Ironman UK. Fraser Cartmell, Stephen Bayliss, Spencer Smith and Stuart Fraser were the first to exit the lake at Sherborne Castle. Bayliss and Cartmell rode hard in the front and controlled the race pretty much there. They arrived in T2 almost 6 minutes up on Spencer Smith and 7 minutes on Scott Neyedli. Out on the run Bayliss managed to get time on Cartmell and for a while it looked like Cartmell might at least finish on the podium in his first full IM event. But half way through the run Cartmell dropped out and with him out of the picture, Bayliss cruised to an uncontested win in 8:53:57. Neyedli crossed the line in second, about 10 minutes later and Andreas Di Bernardo ran very strong from 7th place after T2 and caught Spencer Smith late to take the final podium spot.
Rachel Joyce led all the women out of the water followed by Heike Funk and the 07 Ironman UK Champion Bella Comerford. By mile 20 on the bike Comerford had moved into the lead and slowly rode away from her competitors. She managed to build up a lead of more than 7 minutes as she entered T2 and from there she easily cruised to victory. The win here was her 3rd Ironman title in 2008 after already having won Ironman South Africa and Ironman Lanzarote earlier this year.
On a somewhat related note, Bella Comerford will get married to Stephen Bayliss after Ironman Hawaii and we can all imagine what kind of early wedding gift they might desire.
Ironman UK / Sherborne Castle, UK / September 7, 2008
2.4m swim / 112m bike / 26.2m run
Top 10 men
1. Stephen Bayliss (GBR) 8:53:57
2. Scott Neyedli (GBR) 9:04:30
3. Andreas Di Bernardo (AUT) 9:08:25
4. Spencer Smith (GBR) 9:13:34
5. Nick Saunders (GBR) 9:18:25
6. Toby Radcliffe (GBR) 9:30:36
7. Kai Söderdahl (FIN) 9:32:16
8. Dave Rost (NED) 9:34:38
9. Rune Skovmand (NOR) 9:41:08 *
10. Jan Kovalovsky (CZE) 9:41:34
Top 10 women
1. Bella Comerford (GBR) 9:49:07
2. Heike Funk (GER) 10:24:41
3. Susanne Buckenlei (GER) 10:28:42
4. Yvette Grice (GBR) 10:35:08
5. Monika Stadlmann (AUT) 10:35:27
6. Alice Hector (GBR) at 10:41:29
7. Irene Kinnegin (NED) 10:43:09 *
8. Lucy Gossage (GBR) 10:44:53 *
9. Abigail Bayley (GBR) 11:03:05
10. Kathy Cook (GBR) 11:05:15 *
* = AG athlete