Francisco Pontano won the 2009 Ford Ironman Coeur D'Alene with a very balanced swim, bike and run. Tyler Stewart won her first Ironman title as she rocked to a win in the women's race in a time of 9:23:21.
Super fish John Flanagan was first out of the water and had an almost 2 minute lead on a group that contained Francisco Pontano, David Kahn, James Bonney, Balazs Csoke and Bryan Rhodes.
By mile 10 on the bike, Rhodes had taken the lead with Pontano only a few seconds behind, but not much later Pontano went to the front. Pontano steadily increased his lead and by mile 60 he was 1:20 up on Rhodes. Rhodes though encountered bike troubles and started to drop back quite a bit. The other swim leaders Flanagan and Kahn also started to slow down and TJ Tollakson meanwhile steadily moved toward the front of the field. Tollakson soon was in second place, but had a tough time making a dent into Pontano's lead. Not surprising when considering that Pontano had the fastest bike split of the day in a time of 4:40:41. Coming into T2, Pontano had a 7 minute lead on Tollakson, who managed the second fastest bike split.
Pontano looked smooth on the run too and managed to increase his lead even further. Tollakson was almosy 10 minutes back by mile 15, and the leader board now showed Maximilian Longree in 3rd place. Not known for his swimming prowess, Longree had moved up past fading competitors, but he was almost 25 minutes out of the lead at that time. Not much changed in the last 11 miles regarding the podium positions, and Pontano cruised to the title in a time of 8:32:12. Tollakson crossed the line about 10 minutes later and Longree snagged third in a time of 8:50:19.
"I had a miserable swim in really choppy water. I got nauseas very early and had to slow just to keep it together." said Tollakson to slowtwitch. "The bike is super tough in CdA with 6000 ft of climbing so there is nowhere to hide, it was the perfect course for me to get back in the race and I just rode a steady pace using my srm and watched everyone come back to me on the second lap (except Pontano). My run was superb and went as planned. I used my special needs bag with red bull and oatmeal creme pies to the fullest extent, taking down four of the Little Debbies and two cans of the Bull. I slowed a bit the last 4 miles when I realized I had 15 minutes on Max and just needed to make sure I could get to the finish without walking. CdA is a great scenic course with some super tough hills that keeps all the cyclists honest."
Caroline Steffen led the women out of the water and was followed closely by Kate Major, Edith Niederfriniger and Heather Wuertele.
Once on the bike, Steffen started to get away from her competitors and by mile 30 had a 1:31 lead on Wuertele, and a 1:41 margin on Major. Not much later, Steffen started to slow down, just as Tyler Stewart was rolling through the field from behind. By mile 56 the new race leader was Stewart. Stewart then put on a cycling clinic and had a 5 minute lead on Major by mile 86. With a record bike split time of 4:59:16, Stewart hit T2 well ahead of Wuertele who had moved ahead of Major.
Starting the run, Stewart had a 6:55 lead on Wuertele and 10:35 lead on Major. Major though can never be counted out and soon the Aussie was flying along and taking time back from Stewart and Wuertele. By mile 16, Major was only 3:50 behind Stewart and 1:35 up on Wuertele. But that is as close as Stewart would allow Major to come. Stewart started to increase her lead again and crossed the line first in a time 0f 9:23:21. Major came in second in a time of 9:32:10 and Wuertele held on to third in 9:34:24.
A very happy Stewart spoke to slowtwitch after the race: "It's an amazing feeling! It makes all the training and sacrifices that I do and my family and husband do for me more justified! :) I am thrilled!"
Ironman Coeur D'Alene
Coeur D'Alene, ID / June 21
Top 10 men
1. Francisco Pontano (ESP) 8:32:12
2. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:42:03
3. Maximilian Longree (GER) 8:50:19
4. Justin Henkel (USA) 8:56:08
5. Tuuka Miettinen (FIN) 9:02:49
6. Trevor Wuertele (CAN) 9:03:52
7. Scott Curry (CAN) 9:04:45
8. John Flanagan (USA) 9:05:26
9. Zach Ruble (USA) 9:06:30
10. Andrew Mullenix (CAN) 9:10:58 * AG M30-34
Top 10 women
1. Tyler Stewart (USA) 9:23:21
2. Kate Major (AUS) 9:32:10
3. Heather Wuertele (CAN) 9:34:24
4. Haley Cooper (USA) 9:51:11
5. Rachel Kiers (CAN) 9:53:43
6. Ann Banke (DEN) 9:54:00
7. Jessica Jacobs (USA) 9:54:58
8. Edith Niederfriniger (ITA) 9:56:44
9. Brooke Meredith Keeran (USA) 10:00:51 * F30-34
10. Kelly Liljeblad (USA) 10:08:31