Vernay and Wellington fly in OZ

Patrick Vernay repeated his title at Port Macquarie and now has 3 Australian Ironman titles to his name. Chrissie Wellington meanwhile proved that her win in Hawaii was no fluke and took the women's race at the 2008 Panther's Ironman Australia and 9th place overall.

Luke McKenzie exited the waters first and soon he and his training partner Mathias Hecht were pushing the pace on the bike, exchanging leads and gaping the competition. Spread out over several minutes and a few minutes behind, Luke Bell, Cameron Watt, Boyd Conrick, Patrick Vernay and Mitch Anderson pursued the duo, but early on it appeared that they were not making up time. At various points McKenzie and Hecht attempted to drop each other but eventually the two entered T2 together. Mitchell Anderson meanwhile methodically had pulled himself into 3rd position about 3 minutes behind.

As they started the run, McKenzie looked quite good and soon was alone in the lead, but defending champion Patrick Vernay who is known for his running prowess, started the run just 5:20 after McKenzie. At the 14k mark, Vernay had passed everyone but McKenzie, and Anderson was sitting comfortably in third, but the writing was on the wall and at the 20k point McKenzie had to relinquish his lead to the man from New Caledonia. Vernay crossed the line in 8:31:33 followed by Anderson in 8:40:19. Mathias Hecht meanwhile found a second wind and ran all the way up to third place in a time of 8:42:48.

In the women's race all eyes were on Chrissie Wellington and Kate Major. Wellington exited the water a few seconds ahead of Major but soon after, Major started to pull away on the bike. Wellington meanwhile went back and forth with Lisa Maragon, but seemed content to let Major be in the lead by a couple minutes. By the 130k mark though Wellington had upped her pace and was less than 30 seconds behind Major. They entered T2 virtually together and it would be Wellington who was out on the run first.

Looking smooth and reasonably comfortable, Wellington slowly ran away from Kate Major and in the end crossed the finish line in 9:03:55 and in 9th position overall. Major though never really let up and chased quite hard despite having a massive cushion on any 3rd place contenders. She crossed the finish line in 9:09:12 followed by Melinda Cockshutt fwho finished more than 45 minutes behind Wellington. Every finisher in the top 10 but Wellington was from Australia.

Top 10 men

1. Patrick Vernay (NCL) 8:31:33
2. Mitchell Anderson (AUS) 8:40:19
3. Mathias Hecht (SUI) 8:42:48
4. Tim Berkel (AUS) 8:44:20
5. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 8:46:01
6. Luke Bell (AUS) 8:56:17
7. Matt White (AUS) 8:59:50
8. Nathan Stewart (AUS) 9:03:29
9. Raimo Raudsepp (EST) 9:04:24
10. Kevin Kutjar (CAN) 9:06:50

Top 10 women

1. Chrissie Wellington (GBR) 9:03:55
2. Kate Major (AUS) 9:09:12
3. Melinda Cockshutt (AUS) 9:50:02
4. Prue Oswin (AUS) 10:00:11
5. Sarah Pollett (AUS) 10:00:12
6. Alison Coyle (AUS) 10:00:49
7. Joanne Bennett (AUS) 10:05:37
8. Amelia Pearson (AUS) 10:10:45
9. Emma Weitnauer (AUS) 10:20:41
10. Kirsten Molloy (AUS) 10:23:17