2014 Ultraman World Championships: Winnemoeller, Miyazaki, Kajlich

Andre Kajlich became the first hand-cycle athlete to finish Ultraman World Championships. (Hawaii 24/7 photo courtesy of Nadine Fischer | www.nadinefischer.com)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

The soggy conditions the athletes faced on Day 2 were replaced by blazing sun for the third and final day of the 2014 Ultraman World Championships.

The competition on the run was as hot as Sunday’s temperatures, but that didn’t stop the pack of 38 triathletes from recording some remarkable feats.

Not only did this year’s line up include one of the largest contingents of women ever – a full dozen – but it also included the second ever entry in the wheelchair division. The previous attempt made by renowned athlete John McClain fell short when he didn’t make the bike cutoff.

The Ultraman race includes a 6.2-mile swim from Kailua Pier to Keauhou Bay, a 261.4-mile bike ride around the eastern side of the island – via Volcano, Hilo and the Hamakua Coast to Hawi – and a 52.4-mile run from Hawi to Kailua-Kona.

This was the 30th running of the race. The event began in 1983, but there was no race in 1987.

Tony O’Keeffe heads to the showers, with a little help from his crew. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)


Defending champion Miro Kregar, 52, of Slovenia, ran a blistering 6:27:30 for the double marathon to win the run portion of the event and move into fourth in the overall standings with a total time of 24:18:48.

Tobias Winnemoeller, 35, of Neuss, Germany, burnt up the course with a 6:41:58 run split to finish second on the day and overcome the 54 minute deficit he faced coming into the third stage.

With a total time of 23:28:14, Winnemoeller won the world championship in his first attempt.

Winnemoeller, a veteran triathlete and marathoner and engineer by trade, said he didn’t feel he was in the best condition as he only had 10 weeks to prepare for the race.

“I’ve never done anything better than this. I’m so glad I said ‘yes,’ that I would come to Hawaii,” he said. “I did it and probably I will never do it again. I did everything that was possible for me to do and it paid off. This was on my ‘must do’ list.”

The new world champion had to fight off stomach problems on Day 2, after a brutal swim.

“The swim was very long for me, especially the last third was really bad,” he said. “Then on Day 2, I was thinking ‘OK, this could be it.’”

After downing an energy drink, an energy gel and a banana about half way along Puna’s Red Road, he said, “I thought, ‘OK, if the sugar does not kick in, I’m dropping out.”

Apparently, the sugar kicked in just fine as Winnemoeller said he stopped feeling dizzy and jumped back on his bike.

“The bike turned out to be pretty good. Although it was way too wet,” he said. “And then today turned out pretty good too.”

Winnemoeller said coming in as a rookie did not present much of a challenge and he fully enjoyed the spirit of the event.

“This is a really, really, really amazing race. I’ve raced all over the world, but this one is special,” he said. “It’s really old school. Just the athletes racing. Everybody is so nice to each other and helps each other out.”

Winnemoeller’s crew included Tim Wiley, Wendy Daniels and Fredo Duran.

Craig Percival, 43, of Melbourne, Australia, finished in second place, with a time of 23:34.

Percival had been the leader on the first two days, but was seventh on the run with a time of 7:41:45.

Tony O’Keeffe, 53, of Colorado Springs, was third place finisher on the day with a 6:46:41 run and also held the third position overall at 23:44:29.

Rounding out the top five was Peter Kotland, 42, of Czech Republic, who finished sixth on the run section by clocking a 7:33:25 to total out his three-day adventure with a time of 24:27:52.

Women’s world champion Yasuko Miyazaki (second from left) and her crew, sporting the T-shirts she sold to raise funds to race. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)


In the women’s field, Yasuko Miyazaki, 37, of Saitama, Japan, ran a new course record time of 6:54:57.

She became the first woman to go under 7 hours on the 52.4 mile course at the Ultraman World Championships. The previous record was 7:12:07, set by Ann Heaslett in 2009.

This performance rocketed Miyazaki into first place woman overall with at total time of 25:40:49.

The office worker had competed in Ultraman just once before, in 2012 when she finished sixth overall in a time of 26:21:28.

“Today was the hardest day,” she said through a translator. “But I had the determination to be champion and I knew I had to push for it from the beginning. I wanted to win from Day 1 and beat the run record.”

Miyazaki said she had set a goal of 7:20 for the run and was pleased to crack the 7 hour mark.

“I did so well for one reason – my team. This is a team race. I’ve done Ironman races for 19 years and that feels like a short race, a speed race. I like the long distances best, so this is why I was so happy to discover Ultraman,” she said.

“This was the 30th year and I wanted to do something special,” Miyazaki said. “And I did it.”

She said she sold Team Miyazaki T-shirts to raise funds to compete this weekend and thanked the 100 friends who contributed.

“They are my team too,” she said.

Miyazaki’s crew included Weston Kile, Aya Hasegawa, Toshi Mochizuki and Atsushi Ohkawa.

Texan Meredith Terranova, 40, posted the second fastest run time for the women with a time of 8:09:40 for a three‐day total of 29:09:00.

Australian Julie Shelley, 38, who had been the women’s leader going into the run posted a third best on the day 8:11:03 to claim the second spot on the women’s podium with a total time of 26:30:45.

Rounding out the top three overall in the women’s field was Kathy Winkler, 48, of Mill Valley, Calif., who ran a 8:40:43 to record a total time of 27:17:36.


Andre Kajlich, 35, of Edmonds, Wash., became the first hand‐cycle athlete to complete the Ultraman World Championships course in a combined time of 26:41:55.

Kajlich, a researcher, chose to use his everyday wheelchair rather than a racing chair so as not to have “an unfair advantage” over the other athletes. He recorded a time of 6:49:31 in the run split.

“I knew I’d easily be first in a racing wheelchair. For me, it’s just easier (to use his regular wheelchair) and more like running,” he said.

“The first day was the hardest for the swim and the bike was tough, but in a good way,” he said. “The second day got better. It started raining and stayed that way. It was cool, borderline miserable, but I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s a gorgeous ride.”

With a goal of sub-9:30 on the second day, Kajlich was pleased with his 9:28:30 time, but paid for it.

“I was really sore. It was a night of tossing and turning. I just couldn’t get comfortable, but this morning at breakfast, I started to loosen up and feel really good,” he said. “Today was a little windy, but smooth sailing.”

Having completed Ultraman Canada in August, Kajlich knew what he was getting into.

“I was pretty excited about doing Ultraman,” he said. “I got a lot of love from people just cruising by, honking and shakas. A lot of support. That was cool.”

Kajlich’s crew included Peter Knudson, Mark Wormley, Marco and Lisa Walker.


At the Day 3 12-hour cutoff mark, there were 34 official finishers and four athletes unable to complete the event.

The weekend wraps up with an awards dinner and slideshow beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Courtyard by Marriot King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel Luau Grounds.

— Find out more:


Tobias Winnemoeller and Andre Kajlich head toward the finish line at Old Kona Airport. (Hawaii 24/7 photo courtesy of Nadine Fischer | www.nadinefischer.com)


Andre Kajlich smiles during the Day 3 segment. (Hawaii 24/7 photo courtesy of Nadine Fischer | www.nadinefischer.com)


Some unofficial finishers join the party with Valenti Gumbau Sanjuan. The Spaniard (682) finished 16th overall. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)


     Day 1     Day 2    Day 3    

Last NameFirst NameAgeSexSwim

6.2 miles

90 miles

Day 1

170 miles
­Total Day 2­Total Bike

Day 1 & 2

52.4 miles


­Overall Place