Zyemtsev, Kessler win IM CDL

Viktor Zyemtsev of the Ukraine held off Tim O’Donnell of the United States by 9:07 to secure his third Ironman Coeur d’Alene victory and his 9th Ironman title in a time of 8:32:29 and Meredith Kessler won the women’s race by an astounding margin of 39 minutes 41 seconds after her closest rival was disqualified due to a mechanical malfunction that led to receiving outside assistance.

The Men

Zyemtsev started his day with a 5th fastest 51:56 swim that trailed Kiwi Bryan Rhodes (49:13), O’Donnell (49:20), fellow Ukrainian Anton Blokhin and New Zealander Guy Crawford (both 51:28).

Zyemtsev took charge on the bike with a 2nd-best 4:47:55 split that brought him to T2 with a 1:57 lead on Crawford (4:50:17 bike), 4:53 on countryman Anton Blokhin (4:53:11 bike), 5:47 on O’Donnell (4:56:22 bike), 12:57 on Kevin Taddonio (race-best 4:47:10 bike) 15:30 on Matthew Russell of the U.S. (4:48:52 bike) and 15:33 on Bryan Rhodes (5:06:04 bike ).

On his way to a race-best marathon, Zyemtsev increased his lead at the 6-mile mark of the run to 6:47 on O’Donnell, 7:57 on Crawford, 11:08 on Blokhin, 13:08 on Taddonio, 16:17 on Matthew Russell and 19:17 on Lew Elliott.

By Mile 11 of the run, things settled down a bit as O’Donnell matched Zyemtsev’s pace and trailed by just 6:32, trailed by Crawford (-12:54),. Taddonio advanced to 3rd, (-13:06), Blokhin hung tough at 4th (-13:18) and Russell 5th (-17:15). By Mile 17, O’Donnell trailed by 6:20, with Taddonio 3rd, 16 minutes down. At Mile 19, Zyemtsev seemed to be in trouble with a side stitch, but held firm and never lost more than a minute to O’Donnell.

At the finish, Zyemtsev’s marathon was his ace in the hole. The Ukrainian’s race-best 2:49:37 run was 3:22 faster than O’Donnell and brought him home with a 9:07 margin of victory. Russell’s 3rd-best 2:53:41 run advanced him to the final spot on the podium, 10:24 back of O’Donnell.

The Women

Meredith Kessler of the U.S. took her third Ironman victory with a wire-to-wire performance that combined all three race-bests – a 51:28 swim, 5:13:16 bike split on Coeur d’Alene’s rugged hills, and a 3:12:04 marathon -- to wrap up the race with plenty of time to spare. Kessler’s 9:21:44 clocking was the third-fastest women’s time in the race’s 9-year history – behind only Julie Dibens’ 9:16:40 winning time last year and Linsey Corbin’s 9:17:54 winning mark in 2010.

Kessler’s Coeur d’Alene victory was her remarkable fourth in 2012, coming after wins at Ironman New Zealand and Ironman St. George and at Eagleman 70.3

Depending on her rivals’ splits, Kessler could be said to have won this race on the swim, the bike and the run. Her 51:53 swim put 14:09 on runner-up Haley Cooper-Scott. Her 5:13:16 bike split added 14:24 to her margin on Cooper-Scott, and Kessler’s 3:12:04 run added another 12:27 to her dominance of the runner-up.

But the final statistics do not include the battle that Kessler had with tall Canadian Heather Wurtele halfway through the race -- until a faulty part on Wurtele’s bike and a misunderstanding of USA Triathlon rules against outside assistance eventually led to her disqualification.

Wurtele trailed Kessler by three minutes after the swim, then chased down Kessler after 40 miles on the bike. Wurtele then built up a decent lead until she noticed that her left pedal was starting to come undone somewhere around the 100-mile mark.

Recollecting the moment on her blog, Wurtele wrote: “Then… my left pedal stroke started feeling kind of wobbly. Looking down I could see the wave washer and spacers had a rather large gap than they should. I thought “oh no, oh no, oh no this isn’t happening”. I stopped briefly to see if I could thump it back in (not one to carry a 10 mm allen key on my race bike) but no. It did seem, though, that it wouldn’t come completely off, so I got back on and kept riding – trying to keep even, inward pressure on the cranks. The drive side started pushing out, and rubbing the chain on the derailleur to such an extent that it popped into the small ring. I un-clipped while rolling to tap it back in with my right foot, and that’s when, POW! the left crank-arm went flying off.


After that, a physically challenged athlete stopped and offered Wurtele to take his bike to T2, but she refused.

Then fellow pro Christie Sym, who had withdrawn, came riding up and urged Wurtele to ride her (much undersized for 6-foot plus Wurtele) bike to T2.

By the time Wurtele arrived in T2, she had reduced her 8-minute deficit to 5:45 down and started the two-loop marathon run. After one loop, race officials met Wurtele and gave her a red card which meant she was disqualified because (a) she received outside assistance and (b) she continued to move forward in the race without her original bicycle.

Wurtele said later that she understood outside assistance to mean help from outsiders or family -- but that help from fellow competitors was not forbidden -- and continued to run.

Finally, after her husband Trevor rode up at Mile 21 of the run and confirmed that the USA Triathlon rule applied and she would be suspended for six months if she did not withdraw, she stopped.

While the Kessler vs. Cooper-Scott rivalry was not close, Cooper-Scott’s fight for 2nd with Whitney Garcia was red-hot. Garcia emerged from the swim in 1:01:56 with a 4:06 margin on Cooper-Scott but she gave back 2:35 with a glacial 4:45 transition. After the 112-mile bike, Cooper-Scott’s 5:27:40 split was 5 minutes and 7 seconds faster than Garcia’s. Garcia dug in and ran 3:20:18 which cut 4:13 into Cooper-Scott’s lead, but fell 21 second short at the line.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
June 24, 2012
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.



1. Viktor Zyemtsev (UKR) 8:32:29
2. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 8:41:36
3. Matthew Russell (USA) 8:52:00
4. Kevin Taddonio (USA) 8:55:48
5. Anton Blokhin (UKR) 8:59:49
6. Joel Jameson (GBR) 9:09:52
7. Ian Mikelson (USA) 9:13:03
8. Tom Evans (CAN) 9:20:03 * M40-44
9. Bryan Rhodes (NZL) 9:20:27
10. Christopher Boudreaux (USA) 9:23:10


1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 9:21:44
2. Haley Cooper-Scott (USA) 10:01:25
3. Whitney Garcia (USA) 10:01:46
4. Jocelyn Comman (USA) 10:09:19 * F30-34
5. Katy Blakemore (USA) 10:11:00 * F30-34
6. Rachel Kiers (CAN) 10:16:19
7. Ali Black (USA) 10:18:46 * F35-39
8. Jennifer Hanley-Pinto (USA) 10:21:23 * F35-39
9. Beth Shutt (USA) 10:22:16
10. Stephanie Ossenbrink (CAN) 10:24:44