Starykowicz, Van Vlerken win IM Florida

Andrew Starykowicz of the United States won the 2012 Ironman Florida men's title with a smashing, world-best Ironman bike split. Yvonne Van Vlerken of the Netherlands broke Jessica Jacobs' course record by 3:35 as she captured the women's crown.

The Men

Starykowicz emerged from the water second in 49:51 then took off like a rocket to set a world-best Ironman bike split of 4:04:39. Starykowicz’s sizzling bike split topped by 6 minutes 54 seconds the former Ironman-distance world-best bike split of 4:11:43 set by Andreas Raelert while winning the 2011 edition of Challenge Roth.

Starykowicz’s record-smashing ride brought him to T2 in 4:57:38 with a 19-minutes-plus lead on his nearest pursuers, a tight pack of 8 men who included eventual runner-up and former Ironman Florida winner Jan Raphael of Germany.

On the run, Starykowicz doled out his 19-minute lead prudently and evenly on his way to a 3:06:42 marathon that brought him to the finish line in 8:06:17 with a 2:32 margin of victory over Raphael, who closed with a 3rd-fastest 2:49:53 marathon to take 2nd place. Scott DeFilippis of hurricane-plagued Normandy Beach, New Jersey took 3rd, 44 seconds behind Raphael.

The win capped a late-season recovery from severe injuries Starykowicz suffered on the bike leg at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon March 3. While leading that race, he accidentally crashed into an aid station volunteer who darted across the road in front of him. After stopping to see that the volunteer was being given medical attention, Starykowicz continued with the race but had to withdraw due to injuries that included a broken collar bone, nerve damage and displacement of his right humerus which was pushed through the labrum. The volunteer remained in a coma before regaining consciousness several weeks after the accident. Authorities detained Starykowicz for several days and required him to post a $50,000 bond before returning his passport and allowing him to leave the country.

Starykowicz recovered from injuries well enough to compete in October and placed 2nd at Rev3 Florida and won Rev3 South Carolina before starting at Ironman Florida.

The Women

Van Vlerken emerged from the swim in 1:01:26, which put her 8:42 behind 3-time 2012 Ironman winner Meredith Kessler, 4:45 behind Ashley Clifford of the U.S., and 2:33 behind 2012 Ironman World Championship 3rd place finisher Mirinda Carfrae of Australia.

Kessler kept the lead throughout her 3rd-best 4:47:00 bike split on the pool table-flat Florida panhandle roads, but Van Vlerken, jetting along to a sizzling, race-best 4:40:20 bike split, had whittled that lead down to 1:10 as they started the marathon. Jessica Jacobs, who made up for her 1:08:51 swim with a 2nd-fastest 4:46:16 bike, trailed by 15 minutes in 3rd. Carfrae, after a 7th-fastest 4:57:06 bike split, was 6th starting the run, 15:36 down.

Van Vlerken, on her way to 3:04:45 marathon, passed Kessler in the early miles and cruised to the finish in a new course record time of an 8:51:35, which gave her a 13:28 margin of victory over runner-up Carfrae, who closed with a 2nd-best 3:03:26 run to finish in 9:05:03. Ashley Clifford, who swam a 2nd-best 56:41 and gave up 27 minutes with a 5:07:51 bike split, closed hard with a race-best 2:57:31 run to take 3rd, 2:31 behind Carfrae.

Long-time race leader Meredith Kessler fell from 1st to 4th with a 3:22:52 run which brought her to the finish in 9:08:28. Kessler might well have been suffering from the aftereffects of two bad crashes suffered earlier in the season -- a broken back suffered in a bike crash in mid summer and a concussion suffered at Ironman Hawaii when she was taken down with a wind gust on the bike.

Ironman Florida
Panama City Beach, Florida
November 3, 2012
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.



1. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 8:06:17
2. Jan Raphael (GER) 8:08:49
3. Scott DeFilippis (USA) 8:09:33
4. David Plese (SLV) 8:14:28
5. Denis Chevrot (FRA) 8:16:49
6. Jens Petersen-Bach (DEN) 8:18:25
7. Christophe Bastie (FRA) 8:19:31
8. Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 8:23:47
9. James McCurdy (USA) 8:29:04
10. Kirill Kotsegerov (EST) 8:32:12


1. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 8:51:35
2. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 9:05:03
3. Ashley Clifford (USA) 9:07:34
4. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:08:24
5. Stephanie Jones (USA) 9:13:18
6. Carrie Lester (AUS) 9:17:53
7. Jennie Hansen (USA) 9:21:09