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Don, the 2006 ITU Olympic distance World Champion, combined a 44:16 swim, a 4:06:56 bike split and a 2:44:46 marathon to finish in 7:40:23 with a 25:20 margin of victory over Kyle Buckingham of South Africa and 26:35 over 3rd-place Igor Amorelli of Brazil.
Perhaps aided by cool temperatures in a light rain on the run, Don topped Lionel Sanders’ Ironman-brand record of 7:44:29, set last year at Ironman Arizona, by 4:06. The only man to post a faster Ironman-distance time remains Jan Frodeno, who went 7:35:39 at Challenge Roth last year. Frodeno’s mark is 4:44 faster than Don’s Brazilian performance.
Ironman Brazil has recently earned a reputation as a fast Ironman venue as Brent McMahon of Canada went 7:46:10 at Florianópolis last year – which was the 3rd-fastest Ironman-brand performance until Don’s record-smashing effort today.
While they were a bit overshadowed by Don’s heroics, the women had a stellar day as well. Susie Cheetham of Great Britain led the way with an 8:52:00 finish, followed by Sonja Tajsich of Germany in 8:57:36 and long-time race leader Haley Chura of the U.S., who took the final spot on the podium in 8:58:45.
In a close race for 4th place, Gurutze Frades of Spain edged Linsey Corbin of the U.S. by 13 seconds.
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No surprise. That was the reaction when Haley Chura of the U.S. led the women’s swim. Chura emerged from the water in 48:09, which gave her a 1:02 lead on Celine Schaerer of Switzerland, 2:06 on Magali Tisseyre of Canada, and various leads on main contenders including 2:33 on Susie Cheetham of Great Britain, 6:32 on Linsey Corbin of the U.S., 7:22 on Mareen Hufe of Germany and 7:33 on Sonja Tajsich of Germany.
Chura also has a strong bike which defended that lead all the way to T2. Chura’s 7th-best 4:55:18 bike split, 4:02 slower than Hufe’s women's-best 4:51:16 and 2:16 slower than Cheetham’s 4:53:02, gave the U.S. competitor a 3 seconds lead on Cheetham, 3:07 on Hufe, 5:15 on Corbin, 5:16 on Pamela Tastets of Chile, 5:25 on Gurutze Frades, 5:30 on Annah Watkinson of South Africa and 5:43 on Tajsich.
Anyone expecting Chura to surrender was mistaken as Chura increased her lead to 40 seconds on Cheetham at 13km. But by 23km, Cheetham made the pass and opened a 1 minute lead on Chura, 5:53 on Frades, 7:17 on Tajsich and 8:05 on Hufe.
By 33km, Cheetham was long gone, on her way to a tied-for-women’s-best 3:02:41 run split and the victory. Meanwhile, Tajsich was stalking Chura and had reduced the U.S. competitor’s margin to 1 minute. Tajsich (3:02:41 run) passed Chura in the final miles for 2nd place, 5:36 behind Cheetham and 1:08 ahead of Chura (3:09:30 run).