Categorized | Featured, Multi-sport, Sports

Ribeiro, Armstrong repeat as Ultraman champs

Ultraman champion Alexandre Ribeiro gets a hug from sons Kailani and Kaipo, and friend Jose Ponciano. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Ultraman champion Alexandre Ribeiro gets a hug from sons Kailani and Kaipo, and friend Jose Ponciano. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor

A couple of familiar faces got to wear smiles of triumph Sunday afternoon as the men’s and women’s defending champions retained their crowns.

Brazilian Alexandre Ribeiro and Texan Shanna Armstrong had the quickest cumulative times of the three-day, 320-mile Ultraman Triathlon World Championship course.

Between the two endurance athletes, they now can claim 10 Ultraman World Championships.

However, the most remarkable stat of the day came from Ann Heaslett, who knocked an astounding 35 minutes off the women’s run course record, which had stood at 7 hours, 49 minutes and 37 seconds since 1989.

Heaslett, a doctor from Wisconsin, crossed the finish line in 7:12:07.

One relay team and 37 individual racers started; 34 athletes – ranging in age from 26 to 65 – and the team finished.

Men

Ribeiro, 44, crossed the finish line with his crew, which includes trainer Jose Ponciano and sons Kailani and Kaipo.

Former champion and 2009 fourth place finisher Peter Kotland starts his post-race routine. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Former champion and 2009 fourth place finisher Peter Kotland starts his post-race routine. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

His good friend and sometime training buddy, Miro Kregar, 47, actually had the best run time at 6:20:7.

However, once officials added up their times for the 6.2-mile swim, 261.4-mile bike and 52.4-mile run, Ribeiro just pipped Kregar, 22:10:22 to 22:39:14.

Third place went to Peter Kotland who ran 6:47:49 and had a total time of 23:04:56.

Fourth place, and the highest place ever for an Australian athlete, was Mike Le Roux at 23:07:04.

The top Hawaii finisher top fifth place. Rip Oldmeadow, 40, of Kailua-Kona, finished in 24:17:15.

Kotland said it seemed a little cooler this year than previous years.

The 37-year-old professional triathlete who makes his home in South Carolina said strong headwinds toward the end of Friday’s bike leg into Volcano taxed the entire field.

“That just took more out of everybody but it’s the same for everybody,” he said. “The first 20 miles of the run was overcast and a little cooler I think. Actually I can’t think right now. Ask me five months from now and I’m sure I’ve have a different answer.”

After three Ultramans – including the 1997 world championship title – and six Ironmans, what’s the attraction for Kotland?

“I am from Czech and we do not celebrate Thanksgiving. I have nothing better to do on this weekend. I like the race,” he said. “I am crazy – why else would I do this race?”

Ribeiro’s crew member and helper Ponciano said his friend is a little ‘loco,’ too, especially after Ribiero recorded a 2:58 time for the first half of the run and cruised to the finish line under 6:40.

“The first day was OK with the swim, but very hard in the afternoon. The second day was a very bad day, cold and rainy,” he said. “But today was a great day. He was running very strong and pushing very hard in the beginning part.”

Ann Heaslett shatters the women's run record by 35 minutes. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Ann Heaslett shatters the women's run record by 35 minutes. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Women

The field of 10 women managed to rewrite the record books this year.

Shanna Armstrong, who already owned three of the five fastest Ultraman times ever, missed out on the course record by less than three minutes and was eighth overall.

Armstrong, a 35-year-old massage therapist from Lubbock, Texas, was racing in her seventh Ultraman.

By weekend’s end she can say she is just the second woman ever to complete Ultraman in under 26 hours.

The only woman to come in under Armstrong’s time was Tina Bischoff in 1989. Bischoff also set the women’s run record that year.

Heaslett, 46, landed fourth on the all-time list by recording 27:18:32 in 2007, and was out to prove she could better that time.

She not only shattered the run course record, beaten on the day by only four men, but carved 37 minutes off her 2007 time and settled for the third quickest time on the list with 26:31:45.

Despite suffering from chronic high hamstring tendonitis and suffering through Ironman Wisconsin, Heaslett said she wasn’t sure what to expect this weekend.

“I was hoping to do what I did in 2007, about a 7:38,” she said. “This was a really good run.”

Kathy Winkler, a 43-year-old kindergarten teacher from California, was fast enough to be the second woman at 26:04:54 and 10th overall.

In her first Ultraman, she landed third on the all-time list.

“Ultraman seems to be an event that is more concerned about the participants than promoting itself. I was looking for an event that has less hype and more of a love of endurance racing,” she said. “I am thinking there is a lot less ego involved with more of a community/family feeling, and less of a competition to beat others.”

Trix Zgraggen, a 42-year-old homemaker from Switzerland, finished fourth at 27:13:29, and rounding out the top five was Kimmie Rouse, a 54-year-old California flight attendant, at 28:53:19.

Giorgio Alessi takes a bow after winning the 2009 Honu Award. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)Giorgio Alessi takes a bow after winning the 2009 Honu Award. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Honu Award

The Honu Award is given to the last competitor who crosses the finish line before the 6 p.m. Sunday cut-off. (Get it? Slowest? Turtle?)

This year the award – a wooden honu with the Ultraman logo carved in its back – went to Giorgio Alessi.

The 44-year-old P.E. teacher from Sicily, Italy finished his seventh Ultraman with just 13 minutes to spare.

He had a pretty good excuse for being the last athlete on the course. Ten days ago, he completed the Deca-Iron Challenge in Monterrey, Mexico. Alessi ran 10 Ironman distance races in 10 days, covering nearly 1,500 miles and spending more than 150 hours racing.

Oh, and in early August he finished Ultraman Canada in little more than 30 hours.

Complete Results

1. Alexandre Ribeiro, 44, Brazil 22:10:12

2. Miro Kregar, 47, Slovenia 22:39:14

3. Peter Kotland, 37, South Carolina 23:04:56

4. Mike LeRoux, 34, Australia 23:07:04

5. Rip Oldmeadow, 40, Kailua-Kona 24:17:15

6. Jochen Dembeck, 42, Germany 24:25:31

7. Richard Roll, 43, California 24:30:31

8. Shanna Armstrong, 35, Texas 25:48:46

9. Nino Cokan, 36, Solovenia 25:53:41

10. Kathy Winkler, 43, California 26:04:54

11. Mark Ford, 47, California 26:21:05

12. Ann Heaslett, 46, Wisconsin 26:31:45

13. Gary Wang, 42, California 27:07:37

14. Trix Zgraggen, 43, Switzerland 27:13:29

15. Juan Craveri, 41, Argentina 28:31:07

16. Kimmie Rouse, 54, California 28:53:19

17. Peter Mueller, 47, Switzerland 29:22:04

18. Riccardo Alessi, 40, Italy 29:29:31

19. Jason Lester, 35, Kailua-Kona 29:50:36

20. Jamie Patrick, 39, California 30:02:51

21. Ulli Winkelmann, 52, Germany 30:18:37

22. Sheena Miller, 26, Canada, 30:38:28

23. Kathy Laska, 36, Massachusetts 31:13:18

24. William J. Conner, 36, Oklahoma 31:21:41

25. Roland Patzina, 43, Germany 31:32:11

26. Laurie Beers, 55,  Kailua-Kona, 32:18:02

27. Suzy Degazon, 45, California 32:32:19

28. Toni Barstis, 43, Michigan 32:41:19

29. Markus Joswig, 28, Germany 32:52:51

30. Paulo Calil, 37, Brazil 33:02:06

31. Stephen Dewald, 41, Mililani 33:05:02

32. Ellis Andrews, 65, Canada 33:51:21

33. Sean McFadden, 29, Ireland 34:39:43

34. Giorgio Alessi, 44, Italy 35:06:52

Team Result

Team Night Train (Vito Bialla, Linda Bialla, Matthew Davie) 61/49/28, California 27:18:23

DNF

Mario Maddalozzo, 33, Brazil

Daryl Allen, 59, Australian

Cory Foulk, 50, Kailua-Kona

— Find out more:

ultramanlive.com

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