Luke McKenzie’s race-best bike split trumped Cameron Brown’s race-best run to earn the men’s crown while Liz Blatchford led wire-to-wire to take her took her third straight women’s title at Ironman Cairns.
New Zealander Dylan McNeice led the swim in a porpoise-swift 44:54 split that was 1:24 ahead of Luke McKenzie of Australia, 4:39 and 4:50 ahead of fellow Kiwis Simon Cochrane and Cameron Brown and 4:53 and 5:30 ahead of Australians Luke Whitmore and Simon Billeau.
Once the men hit the scenic bike course, McKenzie quickly established his dominance with a race-best 4:30:19 split that was 5:49 better than Billeau, 10:23 better than Brown and 19:22 quicker than McNeice. That stellar ride gave the 6-time Ironman winner an 11 minute lead on Billeau, a 12-minute lead on Brown, 15 minutes on Nick Bensley (55:24 swim and 4:37:07 bike split) and 17 minutes on McNeice, who faded with a 4:49:41 bike split.
With that formidable lead in the bank, McKenzie could afford to cruise to a 2:57:37 run that gave back 4:47 to Brown and 4:34 to 25-29 age grouper Levi Maxwell and still hit the finish line in 8:18:01 with an 8:21 lead on Brown, 18:54 on 3rd-place McNeice, who ran 2:58:40 to hold off Maxwell by 2 seconds for the final spot on the podium.
The win was McKenzie’s 7th Ironman victory.
His Royal Highness Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain, head of Bahrain’s Olympic Committee and a prime mover in Bahrain’s triathlon organizations, finished 53rd overall and 7th in men’s 25-29 in a time of 10:05:27.
While she was doggedly tracked in every discipline by Gina Crawford, Liz Blatchford posted the women's best times in the swim, bike and run and was never threatened on her way to a 3rd straight victory at Ironman Cairns.
Blatchford led the swim in 49:54 which gave her a 3:43 lead on Crawford 5:15 on Kym Coogan, 6:30 on Sarah Crowley and 6:40 on Michelle Bremer.
If there was much doubt about the outcome, Blatchford erased most of the hopes of her competitors with a women's-best 5:07:37 bike split which was 2:57 better than Crawford, 5:22 better than Larisa Marsh, 5:25 better than Bremer, and 8:20 better than Coogan.
Starting the run with a 6:40 lead on Crawford, 12:05 advantage on Bremer and 12:34 on Marsh, Blatchford closed the deal with another women's-best mark, a 3:10:30 run, which brought her to the line in 9:11:49 with a 9:06 margin of victory on Crawford and 23:43 on 3rd-place Bremer.
The win was Blatchford’s third straight at Cairns and third Ironman distance victory.
“The swim was a little bit windy, the sea was a bit choppy, but I like it. Apparently, I took a marker buoy on the wrong side, so I had to take a 4 minute penalty during the bike leg. After taking the penalty, I was still in the lead and I managed to increase my lead up to 6 minutes on Gina Crawford by T2. On the run, there were a lot of turning points, so it was easy to check whether Gina was getting closer or not. It was not the most comfortable run. It really did hurt. But I am very excited to win here for the 3rd time,” said Blatchford.
June 14, 2015
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 8:18:01
2. Cameron Brown (NZL) 8:26:22
3. Dylan McNeice (NZL) 8:36:55
4. Levi Maxwell (AUS) 8:36:57 * M25-29
5. Simon Billeau (AUS) 8:42:05
1. Liz Blatchford (AUS) 9:11:49
2. Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:20:56
3. Michelle Bremer (AUS) 9:35:32
4. Sarah Crowley (AUS) 9:38:43
5. Kym Coogan (AUS) 9:46:42
Ironman 70.3 Cairns
Caroline Steffen won her 17th Ironman 70.3 title and Sam Appleton topped his coach and mentor and a legendary multiple world champion to win Ironman 70.3 Cairns.
Annabel Luxford of Australia outswam Swiss Caroline Steffen by 14 seconds as the two left the rest of the women’s field a minute behind. A drafting penalty to Luxford gave Steffen a 3-minute lead starting the run and, as Luxford faded, the Swiss veteran turned on the jets on the run to finish in 4:19:41 with a 7:15 advantage on Luxford and a 13:06 on 3rd-place Katy Duffield of Australia.
My legs felt heavy early on the bike - after 40km I didn’t think I could even finish the race,” said Steffen. “But it got better and better the whole day.” Steffen posted the women's best bike (2:26:36) and run (1:23:45). The win follows Steffen’s victory at Vietnam and adds to the dominating resume of super team Bahrain Endurance.
Building off an encouraging win at Challenge Bateman’s Bay this March, 24-year-old Sam Appleton topped his coach and mentor Tim Reed, the recent Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Champion, as well as 5-time World Champion Craig Alexander with race-best bike and run legs.
“That was super hard,” said Appleton. “I pushed the whole time out there. I felt really good and I am super stoked to win.”
Appleton was third out of the swim in Palm Cove behind fellow Aussies Eric Watson and Clayton Fettell, then charged to the front on the 56-mile bike leg. After his race-best 2:08:21 split, Appleton had a 2:23 lead on Alexander and Reed and 4:17 on Tim Van Berkel.
Thanks to a prescription for a pre-race rest by his coach and rival Tim Reed, Appleton did not leave the door open on the run as his race-best 1:14:16 half marathon led him to the line in 3:48:54 with a 4:05 margin on Alexander and 6:44 on 3rd-place finisher Reed.
Coach Reed said he advised Appleton to rest up last week as he felt he was over training. “To tell the truth, I didn’t think he was in that sort of shape,” said Reed. “Craig and I were running really well but we weren’t putting any time into Sam. That’s pretty disheartening.”
Alexander ran 1:15:48 to push past Reed for the runner-up slot. Reed, who looked like he was the one who needed a pre-race rest, finished 3rd, 2:39 back of Alexander.
Flight Center Active Travel Ironman 70.3 Cairns
June 14, 2015
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:19:41
2. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:26:56
3. Katy Dufield (AUS) 4:32:47
4. Katey Gibb (AUS) 4:37:26
5. Jessica Mitchell 4:37:36
1. Sam Appleton (AUS) 3:48:55
2. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:52:57
3. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:55:39
4. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) 3:57:55
5. Ben Wriede (AUS) 4:06:31