Two-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion Michael Raelert of Germany defended his 2015 title and Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand won the women's elite crown at the 23rd Laguna Phuket Triathlon on Sunday in Thailand.
Raelert and Antony Costes of France led the men’s swim in 22:54 and 22:56 respectively, and then Costes charged to a 45 seconds lead on Raelert at T2 with a race-best 1:10:58 split over the challenging hills of the 50-kilometer bike course. But Raelert took complete charge on the run, sealing the victory with a race-best 42:39 split for the 12-kilometer run, which brought him to the finish in 2:19:13 with a 2:05 margin of victory over Costes and 4:08 on 3rd-place Brad Kahlefeldt.
Raelert’s win was a late-season tonic for a sub-standard (for him) 2016 season whose prior highlights were 4th places at Ironman 70.3s in Miami and Austin. Micha Raelert has had 20 Ironman 70.3-distance victories in his career.
Watkinson led the women’s swim in 25:20, followed 2 and 4 seconds later by Radka Vodickova of the Czech Republic and ITU World Duathlon Champion Emma Pallant of Great Britain. Within 15 kilometers, Watkinson opened a 2 minutes lead on Pallant and Vodickova. By the end of the 50 kilometer bike leg, Watkinson’s women’s-best 1:18:27 split gave her a 7 minutes lead on Pallant and Vodickova. After a women’s 3rd-best 50:27 run – 55 seconds slower than Pallant and 12 seconds slower than Vodickova – Watkinson finished in 2:36:29 with a 6:01 margin of victory over Pallant and 6:53 over 3rd-place Vodickova.
Watkinson had been training in Thailand since March and Laguna Phuket was her first race in Thailand. “The weather is quite nice, not too hot but still with high humidity,” said Watkinson. “I tried to keep pushing, especially on the bike course and those hills so that it’s not too hard on the run leg,” said Watkinson.
Watkinson’s win was her 10th out of 11 triathlon events at the 5i50 and half Ironman distances this year. Watkinson also took seven podiums of 7 national cycling races in New Zealand this year.
Kahlefeldt and Vodickova, who are engaged to be married in two weeks, each took 3rd place finishes at Laguna Phuket.
Laguna Phuket Triathlon
Laguna Phuket, Thailand
November 19, 20l6
S 1.8k / B 50k / R 12k
1. Michael Raelert (GER) 2:19:13
2. Antony Costes (FRA) 2:21:18
3. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 2:23:21
4. Ritchie Nicholls (GBR) 2:23:46
5. Alberto Casadei (ITA) 2:24:42
6. Peter Schokman (AUS) 2:24:46
7. Lucas Amirault (FRA) 2:30:54
8. AJ Anderson (HKG) 2:34:53 *M35-39
9. Alexandre Reinert (HKG) 2:38:17 *M35-39
10. Jaray Jeanarai (THA) 2:38:48 *M35-39
17. Jurgen Zack (GER) 2:46:35 *M50-54
1. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) 2:36:29
2. Emma Pallant (GBR) 2:42:30
3. Radka Vodickova (CZE) 2:43:22
4. Imogen Simmonds (GBR) 2:44:50
5. Annalise Jeffries (AUS) 2:52:44
6. Martina Dogana (ITA) 2:54:45
7. Tani Burge (AUS) 3:00:46 *F25-29
8. Sophie Kirk (GBR) 3:01:59 *F18-24
9. Marianne Kern (GER) 308:07 *F50-54
10. Louise Croxson (GBR) 3:11:13 *F40-44