Austrian Michael Weiss rode away from the field and closed out his day with a sub 3 hour run to win the inaugural Ironman St. George. For Weiss this was his first Ironman title after having come close a few times before. Heather Wurtele took the women's race and has now two Ironman titles to her name. Her previous success was at Ironman Coeur D'Alene 2 years ago.
Weiss who started his athletic career as a professional mountain biker had been the runner-up at the 2008 XTERRA Worlds and finished in third place at that event in 2009. The Austrian also had finished as the runner-up to Andreas Raelert at the 2008 Ironman 70.3 Monaco event, and to Alex Zeebroek at the 2009 edition of that race. So all those close calls seem to have been finally rewarded with a top-of-the-podium spot.
Luke Bell led the men out of the water and had a 1:40 lead on David Sharatt and a few seconds more on David Castro and Paul Amey. Kirill Kotsegarov, Ben Hoffman, Clemens Coenen, Chris McDonald and Matt Lieto were also right there.
Bell looked very strong early on during the bike and for the first 20 miles managed to keep the pursuers at about the gap he had established during the swim. Sharratt and Castro though had already lost serious time on Bell. Over the next 15 miles Bell started to slow down and by mile 35 Bell, McDonald, Lieto, Coenen and Hoffman were riding together. A bit further behind, Michael Weiss was slowly moving up through the field and started to gain on the leaders. Halfway through the bike, Weiss had caught the front group and soon after he was in the lead by himself. Lieto who looked very strong early on started to drift back at that time, and later explained that he had fallen victim to a stomach virus. By mile 78, Weiss's lead had grown to 3:10 and by the time he entered T2 he had around 7 minutes on Hoffman, McDonald, Kotsegarov, Coenen and Bell.
Those who had predicted that the flying Austrian would pay on the run for his hard effort on the bike were soon proven wrong. Weiss looked very smooth on the run and was the only Pro man who managed to run sub 3 hours on the very tough St. George course. The Austrian crossed the line in 8:40:08 and earned his first Ironman title. Hoffman had a very solid run too and crossed the line in second place, 12:46 after Weiss. McDonald rounded out the podium.
"St. George was an amazing race! Beautiful weather, fun crowds, a challenging course, and epic scenery. I had a perfect day and it was great to see my Colorado swim and run training come together for such a performance," said Weiss to slowtwitch post race. "I want to say thank you to my coaches, friends, family, volunteers, and all who cheered me on throughout the day!"
Gina Crawford had the fastest swim among the female Pros, but she had Heather Wurtele right with her and Meredith Kessler another 35 seconds adrift.
Wurtele quickly jumped into the lead on the bike and soon established a comfortable gap. Kessler was riding in second and Crawford was now in third place. 40 miles into the bike segment, Wurtele had carved out an 8:37 lead over Kessler, a 9:35 margin over Kate Major and a surprising 11:41 gap over Crawford. By mile 80 the lead over the closest pursuer Major was up to almost 15 minutes, and at the end of the bike it was closer to 19 minutes.
The 6'2" Wurtele didn't have the fastest marathon among the female Pros, but that really wasn't a requirement to win the race. Wurtele's 3:19:01 run gave her the second career Ironman title and still allowed her to cross the line 11 minutes up on second place getter Kessler. Caitlin Snow managed to run up into third place as some of the other Pros ahead of her started to falter.
"It is a tough course, and there was a lot of carnage out there today, but I tend to relish conditions like that," said Wurtele. "It is a real test of pacing and toughness when there are solid climbs on both the ride and the run, and well, it's an Ironman after all, right? It is supposed to be hard."
Don't expect Wurtele to grab her Kona slot though, she told slowtwitch that her focus this year is Ironman Canada.
Ford Ironman St. George
St. George, Utah / May 1, 2010
Top 10 men
1. Michael Weiss (AUT) 8:40:08
2. Ben Hoffman (USA) 8:52:54
3. Chris McDonald (AUS) 8:54:42
4. Kirill Kotsegarov (EST) 8:58:19
5. Clemens Coenen (GER) 9:02:13
6. Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 9:09:43
7. Sergio Marques (POR) 9:11:09
8. Christian Brader (GER) 9:14:41
9. Jozsef Major (HUN) 9:16:03
10. Alex McDonald (USA) 9:21:58
1. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 9:35:25
2. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:46:58
3. Caitlin Snow (USA) 10:07:26
4. Gina Crawford (NZL) 10:11:50
5. Kathleen Pallardy (USA) 10:20:45
6. Terra Castro (USA) 10:33:57
7. Jackie Arendt (USA) 10:36:23 * AG F25-29
8. Miranda Alldritt (CAN) 10:40:59
9. Trish Deim (USA) 10:53:21 *AG F30-34
10. Susan Langley (USA) 10:58:41 * AG F40-44