In the Aussies’ last hit out before the Ironman 70.3 Worlds next weekend in South Africa, former 70.3 World Champions Tim Reed (2016) and Craig Alexander (2006 and 2011) waged a classic duel which Reed won by 53 seconds at the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast.
The win was Reed’s second in two weeks after a victory at Bintan 70.3 in Indonesia last weekend.
In an even closer match-up, Swiss star and new mother Caroline Steffen mustered a women's-best 1:19:08 half marathon to edge Australian Annabel Luxford by 35 seconds at this Ironman 70.3 contest in Mooloolaba.
After the birth of her son Xander six months ago, Steffen posted a 3rd at Vietnam 70.3 and a 2nd at the Asia-Pacific 70.3 Championships before this win at Sunshine Coast 70.3. Luxford won bronze at the 2013 Ironman 70.3 World Championship as well as a gold at the 2004 ITU Under 23 World Championship and a 2nd at the 2005 ITU Olympic distance World Championship. Recently she took 3rd at Ironman Switzerland.
In a field stacked with 70.3 talent, Aussie Clayton Fettell led the pro men’s swim wave with a 22:07 split that gave him a 40 to 49 seconds lead on a pack of eight that included Casey Munro, Tim Van Berkel, and Sam Betten with Reed and 45-year-old Craig Alexander a second apart in 8th and 9th positions.
Halfway through the 90m kilometer bike leg, Reed took the lead over a pack of 12 that included Alexander, Berkel and Fettell. Entering a hilly section two thirds through the bike leg, Van Berkel and Reed tried to make a break, which succeeded only in dropping three men from the dozen leaders. At about the 65km mark, David Mainwaring shot into the lead ahead of Fettell and Alexander – but did not succeed in splitting up the pack of nine.
In a final sprint into T2, no dominant actor appeared at the front. Australians Sam Betten and Fettell were timed in equal 2:30:44 with Tim Reed and Oli Stenning of Great Britain 2 seconds back, Tim Van Berkel 3 seconds arrears, Casey Munro 4 seconds behind, Sam Douglas and Craig Alexander trailing by 5 seconds, and Mainwaring bringing up the rear with an 8 seconds deficit.
With a minor bobble in transition, Van Berkel dropped 24 seconds while Reed surged out front at the 7 kilometer mark by 27 seconds on Alexander, 40 seconds on Mainwaring, 1:06 on Van Berkel, and 1:25 on Douglas. At the midpoint of the 21 kilometer run, Reed led by 1:35 on Alexander, 1:54 on Mainwaring, 2:25 on Van Berkel, and 4:05 on Betten.
By 15.4 kilometers, Alexander shaved his deficit to Reed to 51 seconds while Mainwaring closed to within 1:26 and Van Berkel closed to within 2:05.
At the scene of his 2016 World Championship victory, Reed closed his win with a race-best 1:10:05 half marathon which brought him to the finish in 3:42:25 with a 53 seconds margin of victory over Alexander, who ran 1:11:07. Not shabby for a 45-year-old master who refuses to live off his glorious résumé that includes three Ironman World Championships and two Ironman 70.3 world titles.
After a 1:11:40 run split, Mainwaring took 3rd overall, 50 seconds behind Alexander.
Luxford led the women with a 24:37 swim split which gave her a 44 seconds lead on Hannah Wells of New Zealand, 54 seconds on Courtney Gilfillan of Australia, 1:12 on Steffen, 2:32 on Emily Loughnan of Australia, and 5:24 on Beth McKenzie of the U.S.
At 20 kilometers of the bike leg, Luxford held a 1:25 lead on Steffen and Wells, 1:50 on Gilfillan, 4:49 on Loughnan, 6:47 on Holly Khan, 7 minutes on Annelise Jefferies of Australia , 7:41 on Julia Grant of New Zealand and 7:45 on McKenzie. By 42km, Steffen caught Luxford and they rode together at 65km with a 5 minutes lead on Wells and Gilfillan.
After a women's-best 2:16:49 bike split, Steffen hit T2 in a tie with Luxford, who rode 2:18:06. The duo led Wells by 5:14, Grant by 9:14, Jefferies by 9:43, Jessica Mitchell by 9:50, Gilfillan by 11:00, and McKenzie by 11:47.
Steffen surged to the front in the early kilometers of the run, taking a 30 seconds advantage at 5km and 40 seconds at 7.7km. By 10.5km, Luxford closed to within 12 seconds of Steffen. With 3 kilometers to go, Steffen regained momentum and led Luxford by 30 seconds and Wells by 7:54 in third place.
After a women’s-fastest 1:19:08 half marathon, Steffen finished in 4:05:43 with a 35 seconds margin of victory over Luxford (1:19:47 run) and 8:45 over 3rd place Hannah Wells.
After wins at this race in 2014 and 2015, this was Steffen’s third win at the Sunshine Coast 70.3.
Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast
Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia
August 26. 2018
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:42:25 S 22:57 T1 2:06 B 2:05:45 T2 1:34 R 1:10:05
2. Craig Alexander (AUS) 3:43:18 S 22:58 T1 1:55 B 2:05:59 T2 1:22 R 1:11:07
3. David Mainwaring (AUS) 3:44:08 S 23:36 T1 1:50 B 2:05:28 T2 1:36 R 1:11:40
4. Tim Van Berkel (AUS) 3:44:57 S 22:53 T1 2:06 B 2:05:51 T2 1:55 R 1:12:16
5. Casey Munro (AUS) 3:47:54 S 22:49 T1 1:57 B 2:06:04 T2 1:41 R 1:15:24
1. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 4:05:43 S 25:51 T1 2:16 B 2:16:49 T2 1:42 R 1:19:08
2. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:06:18 S 24:38 T1 2:11 B 2:18:06 T2 1:39 R 1:19:47
3. Hannah Wells (NZL) 4:14:28 S 25:23 T1 2:21 B 2:22:26 T2 1:31 R 1:22:50
4. Courtney Gilfillan (AUS) 4:17:08 S 25:32 T1 2:06 B 2:28:17 T2 1:42 R 1:19:32
5. Beth McKenzie (USA) 4:19:19 S 29:29 T1 2:44 B 2:24:30 T2 2:25 R 1:20:14