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Ironman 2013: Notes, quotes, race wrap up

Frederik Van Lierde wins the 2013 Ironman World Championship. (Photo courtesy of Ironman)

Frederik Van Lierde wins the 2013 Ironman World Championship. (Photo courtesy of Ironman)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Fairly calm and cool weather on Saturday gave an extra boost to the more than 2,000 triathletes who started the world championship race.

By the time the day was done, several entries in the record book would needed updaing.

Here’s some highlights:

* In 2012, 109 athletes finished in under 9:30. In 2013, it was 251.

* Milos Kostic won his seventh consecutive Ironman World Championship title today in the men’s 70-74 category. The Canadian went 12:03:38, continuing his unbeaten streak on the island.

* Belgium’s Christian Bodson dominated the men’s 55-59 division with his blistering 9:18:18, winning by more than 30 minutes.

* Kyle Buckingham had a dream day with his 8:37:26 clocking. The South African not only won his age group (men 30-34), he was the first age group finisher and placed 16th overall.

* Canada’s Beverly Watson won the women’s 60-64 division thanks to an 11:50:41.

* Great Britain’s Catherine Faux had a blazing 9:15:16 in the women’s 25-29 age group, which made her the fastest age group women of the day.

* Hines Ward traded his spiked shoes for racing flats on his Ironman journey and stopped the clock in 13:08:09. The former NFL player swam a 1:20:01, biked a 6:21:12 and capped off his day with a 5:12:56 marathon run to complete his one year venture under the guidance and watchful eye eight-time Ironman world champion, Paula Newby-Fraser.

* Master chef Gordon Ramsay exchanged his fiery kitchen for the lava fields in his quest to become an Ironman. In his first attempt at the distance, Ramsay put together a 1:21:20 swim split, pedaled to a 6:35:54 bike and paced out the marathon in 5:48:31 for a 14:04:48 clocking.

* Mexico’s Luis Alvarez successfully completed his 100th Ironman race in 15:54. Alvarez completed his milestone race just a few minutes after Ironman’s first champion completed the race 35 years after he became the world’s first Ironman athlete.

* 78-year-old Harriet Anderson finished more than 3 minutes to spare.

A late night finisher needs a little post-race assistance from the medical staff. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

A late night finisher needs a little post-race assistance from the medical staff. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Top Big Island Finishers

Keish Doi was the first Big Island triathlete to cross the finish line and was the only one to record a sub-8 hour time, finishing in 9:56.54.

He also knocked nearly an hour off his 2012 time of 10:51:11.

1. Keish Doi 9:56:54
2. Jeni Winegarner 10:33:10
3. Michael DeCarli 10:48:19
4. Kristin Drost 11:27:00
5. Keoni Smith 11:28:01
6. Dan Gampon 11:48:49
7. Jon Jokiel, 12:23:19
8. Rick Rubio 12:39:36
9. Net Payne 13:01:17
10. Brian Collins 13:01:36

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

(Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Men’s Wrap Up

Frederick Van Lierde wasn’t even born until the year after the first running of Ironman in 1978.

Fast forward 35 years and the Belgian is world champion, earning $120,000 for his effort.

Van Lierde became the second Belgian to win the world title and in the process, kicked aside a six-year Australian winning streak.

The island of Hawaii delivered a 35th anniversary gift to the entire field of competitors — record-low temperatures, winds not seen by historians of the sport in more than 30 years and even a pod of dolphins during the age-group swim.

American hopeful Andy Potts pulled out of the race, hampered by a nagging nerve injury, the field included two of the winning Australians — 2012 title holder Pete Jacobs and three-time champ Craig Alexander.

Jacobs quickly and confidently took his place at the front of the pack, and thanks to what commentators called “easy water,” swimmers of varying skills were able to draft off stronger feet. By the halfway point, the giant pod of men was still intact — the pace approximately a minute slower due to Potts’ absence.

A couple of pre-race favorites, Germans Andreas Raelert and Sebastian Kienle, missed the group at the turnaround, but ended up only 45 seconds worse for wear.

Jacobs jostled for the lead during the latter stages of the swim, and headed into T1 in third, behind Brandon Marsh (USA) and Clayton Fettell (AUS). Swim times were only seconds apart, with Marsh clocking the fastest of the day, 50:51.

Jacobs headed onto the bike course first after a rookie blooper in T1 left Fettell searching for his bike. Jacobs’ race-week confidence, however, would soon be tested.

Andrew Starykowicz (USA), whose 4:04 2012 Ironman Florida bike split holds the Ironman record, overtook Jacobs almost immediately, as if determined to set a course record here too.

With 26 men within 90 seconds going onto the bike, the men faced a tough decision on whether to try to push the pace to keep Starykowicz in check.

With the gentle push of a tailwind, the early stages of the bike delivered no obvious podium predictions. Competitors as diverse as Starykowicz, Faris Al-Sultan (DEU) and Jacobs were part of the lead group, with Craig Alexander, Ben Hoffman (USA), Frederik Van Lierde and Brandon Marsh (USA) all making confident moves towards the front of the group.

By the turnaround at Hawi, however, the persistence of a few key players started to hint at what was to come: While Starykowicz was able to hold his lead for the majority of the bike, Australia’s Luke McKenzie was zeroing in on him, as was running threat Frederk Van Lierde, and Kienle—who moved more steadily through the pack all day, but wasn’t able to gain the time expected of him.

Cracks began to show around mile 70, as Starykowicz’s lead on McKenzie and Kienle shrunk to 1:05. At mile 75, McKenzie, a veteran Kona competitor, overtook the Kona rookie, and the rest of the bike became a cat and mouse game between the two strong cyclists.

Starykowicz headed into T2 a minute ahead of McKenzie, clocking the fastest bike split of the day in 4:21:50. Kienle came into transition 3:53 back.

It was almost immediately evident on the run that McKenzie, a six-time Ironman champion, was much more comfortable than his closest contender. With relaxed shoulders and a quick turnover, McKenzie began to lay down what he’d later call the run he knew he was capable of on the Big Island.

Strategy also made a statement: he and Kienle flew through the opening stages of the run, moving at a sub-2:40 marathon pace that showed smart pacing on the bike.

McKenzie held onto his lead until mile 17 of the run. Drama continued to develop behind him, however: Kienle and Van Lierde’s pace was starting to cut into his lead, and pre-race favorites Jacobs, Alexander and Raelert had fallen out of contention well into the bike.

Just after the Energy Lab, Van Lierde overtook the Australian, who suffered what he later called “a bad spot for about three or four miles.” But the day was not over for McKenzie, who used his strength and newly lean physique to stave off fading, keep up his pace, and not lose too much time to the Belgian.

As the clock struck 8:12:29, a smiling, fist-pumping Van Lierde came across the finish line for the 2013 Ironman World Championship win — bringing the title back into European hands.

With none of the fastest splits of the day, he showed a consistent effort and skill across all three, putting together a 51:02 swim, 4:25:37 bike, and 2:51:18 marathon to claim the win and the banner performance of his career.

“I tried to be smart, and it worked out,” said the second Belgian to win this event (his coach Luc Van Lierde — no relation, but a coach and good friend — took the title twice in the late 1990s). “After last year I believed I could do it. I worked hard this year — I’ve never worked this hard. I’ve never had such a feeling. It’s the best I could have hoped for.”

Van Lierde noted he was not only the second Belgian to win the world championship, but they have the same last name. Although they are not related, Luc is a coach and good friend of Frederik.

“What does it mean for me? I don’t think I understand it yet,” he said. “Six years Australians win, now a European – I’m the second Belgian and the guy who won it before me has the same name. If that’s not special then I don’t know what is!”

In a breakthrough performance, Luke McKenzie crossed the finish line three minutes later in 8:15:19. The six-time Ironman champion remarked at the finish line that it had been a dream to lead this race for as long as he did.

“I’m a bit disappointed not to hold on for the win, but, seriously, second? I’ll take that,” he said. “That was the best day of my life.”

For someone who’s been dreaming of this day since volunteering at Ironman Australia as a young boy, McKenzie said he was thrilled with his podium finish.

“I saw what I was capable of today,” McKenzie said. “Everyone who’s had a win here has also had a second here, and I can see how one day I can win it now.”

Kienle had a tough day, but managed a strong 2:58 marathon to move up one spot on the podium compared to last year.

South African James Cunnama and Tim O’Donnell rounded out the top five with O’Donnell being the first American to cross the finish line.

2013 world champion Mirinda Carfrae is greeted at the finish line by fiance Tim O'Donnell, who was the top U.S. finisher. (Photo courtesy of Nils Nilsen | Ironman)

2013 world champion Mirinda Carfrae is greeted at the finish line by fiance Tim O’Donnell, who was the top U.S. finisher. (Photo courtesy of Nils Nilsen | Ironman)

Women’s Wrap Up

The pro women now have their own start time, 5 minutes after the pro men, and the race differentiated itself from the men’s race when a lead pack broke off almost immediately.

The group included rookie Haley Chura, Jodie Swallow (GBR), Leanda Cave (GBR), Meredith Kessler (USA), Amanda Stevens (USA) and Rachel Joyce (GBR).

American Mary Beth Ellis, still recovering from a broken collarbone and surgery to pin it back together, managed to exit Kailua Bay in 15th place. Ellis recorded a time for the bike split, but couldn’t finish the run.

Once onto the bike, Kessler took the lead by mile five, following her fourth-best swim (54:06) by making a mark early on. Stevens put the pressure on Kessler, cutting into her lead and passing her at the 30-mile mark.

Caroline Steffen, Swallow and Joyce chose to ride smart and steady all day as Kessler and Stevens played leapfrog at the front, until Joyce chose to make a strategic move after the turnaround at Hawi.

Steffen surprised spectators, choosing not to respond to Joyce’s push, and all eyes were glued to Carfrae as she pushed a hard solo effort, trying to keep her deficit to a minimum, and proving significant gains in her cycling over the past year.

Entering T2, speculations began to fly when it became clear that Carfrae had lost only four minutes to the leaders. She came in off the bike with just under eight minutes to make up — challenging, but doable for the Australian.

As if she had a bone to pick with this race, she set out at a blistering pace putting 30 seconds per mile into the leaders and blew past Joyce at around mile 15.

Carfrae cruised across the finish line, wrapping up her second victory on Alii Drive, in 8:52:14, two minutes ahead of Chrissie Wellington’s course record of 8:54:02.

With a tearful smile and a leap into her fiance’s arms (fifth-place pro Tim O’Donnell), Carfrae swept up the new course record, as well as the third-fastest overall run split of the day: 2:50:38.

Only two men ran a faster run split — Bart Aernouts (2:44.22) and Ivan Rana (2:47.54). She ran 43 seconds faster than men’s winner Frederik Van Lierde.

In addition, Carfrae became the first woman to break 9 hours at Kona three times. Wellington and Paula Newby-Fraser have two each; Joyce has one, which she recorded Saturday.

“It’s unbelievable – we had a great day. I had one of those days when you don’t hurt – I did hurt towards the end of that race. But that was a dream. I felt amazing all day today and I can’t believe it. I didn’t know I had a performance like that in me. That bike set me up – although eight minutes was a lot to make up. It was an amazing day – I’ll never forget it.”

She also thanked her coach Siri Lindley, mom and fiancé O’Donnell.

“I’m getting married in two months,” she said. “I think I’ll be able to cover the wedding bill now.”

Joyce finished just 5:14 back for a time of 8:57, putting her in second — her best ever Kona finish.

“I gave everything and when you do that, you can’t ask for any more,” she said.

Later Carfrae summed it up: “I just had a magic day.”

Great Britain’s Liz Blatchford finished third for the biggest surprise of the women’s race. She only decided to race here in August, and her showing made a mark here on the island.

Yvonne Van Vlerken, of the Netherlands, was fourth and pre-race favorite Steffen, of Switzerland, came in fifth.

The top American woman was Caitlin Snow, who racked up the second-fastest 2:58:51 women’s marathon and finished in 9:10:12

— For complete results, visit: www.ironman.com/triathlon/even…

A late night finisher needs a little post-race assistance from the medical staff. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

A late night finisher needs a little post-race assistance from the medical staff. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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