Two-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion Michael Raelert continued his comeback with a 9-minute margin of victory over home town contender Jamie Huggett at Ironman 70.3 Ballarat. In a similarly dominating performance, three-time XTERRA World Champion Melanie McQuaid of Canada topped Madeleine of Australia by 7 minutes 34 seconds at this new half Ironman in the state of Victoria.
While he has been back in action for three months now, it is still welcome news that Michael Raelert seems to be over his two year hiatus due to injuries and other setbacks and is back to his World Championship 70.3 form.
After fighting knee problems which began in 2012, he underwent knee surgery in August 2013 and did not compete again until August of this year when he finished 3rd at the Challenge Walchsee-Kaiserwinkl half. He then won Ironman 70.3 Rügen in September. In October, he won Ironman 70.3 Miami and just a week ago he posted a swift and dominating 3:35:55 time to win Ironman 70.3 Mandurah - which he closed with a 1:12:45 run.
With his comeback well underway, Raelert’s second straight Australian 70.3 victory lacked the drama of his first 2014 wins - but was impressive nonetheless.
Raelert led the swim in 23:58, which gave him a 10 seconds lead on Luke Bell, 12 seconds on Matt Bailey, 1:07 on Josh Rix and over a minute on the Huggett brothers Ben and Jamie. Repeating their duel at Mandurah 70.3, Raelert and Bell stayed together halfway through the bike leg but near the end Raelert surged ahead to finish with a race-best 2:08:33 split which gave him a 1:46 lead at T2, with Jamie Huggett next, 7:12 behind.
Raelert then put the final nails in his rivals’ coffins with a race-best 1:13:53 run which brought him to the finish in 3:48:33 with a 9 minutes margin of victory over Jamie Huggett and 11:02 over 3rd-place finisher Luke Bell.
Melanie McQuaid, who has had better highlights in the 70.3 realm (a win at Boise 70.3, 3rd at Honu 70.3 and a 4th at Vineman 70.3) than in XTERRA (a win at XTERRA Canada but an 8th at XTERRA Worlds in Maui), started her day with a women’s-best 28:52 swim split which gave her a narrow 1 second lead on Australian contender Madeleine Oldfield.
However, after a women's race-best 2:22:39 bike split, McQuaid had a 5:11 lead on Oldfield and 6:10 on German pro Mareen Hufe.
After a second-best 1:25:37 run, she finished in 4:19:40 with a 7:34 margin of victory over Oldfield, 10:07 over Hufe and 10:24 over 4th place Jessica Mitchell, who closed with a women's- best 1:24:56 run.
Ironman 70.3 Ballarat
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
November 16, 2014
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:48:33
2. Jamie Huggett (AUS) 3:57:33
3. Luke Bell (AUS) 3:59:35
4. Josh Rix (AUS) 4:04:41
5. Hayden Armstrong (AUS) 4:06:59
1. Melanie McQuaid (CAN) 4:19:40
2. Madeleine Oldfield (AUS) 4:27:14
3. Mareen Hufe (GER) 4:29:47
4. Jessica Mitchell (AUS) 4:30:04
5. Kristy Hallet (AUS) 4:43:14